At Amsterdam’s Startblok Riekerhaven housing project, both Dutch and refugees live together
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands has always remained a favorite destination for the tourists. The Netherlands has continuously been in the list of top ten happiest countries, as per the World Happiness Index. Probably the progressive strategies adopted by the country for its people make it a wonderful country to live in. Besides thinking for its natives, the country has strategies for the refugees too!! The refugee crisis has been a major problem that the world has been witnessing since quite a few years.
In order to curb the problem, Amsterdam has initiated a project called – Startblok Riekerhaven. It is an innovative housing experiment, where more than 550 adults under the age of 28 live. Interestingly, half of them are refugees, from the Middle East, Africa, etc. and the other half are Dutch.
Both the groups are encouraged to mix up socially so as to build a new community together. Joint activities like movie nights, football matches are also conducted. Through a buddy system, they learn about each other’s culture. Through the ‘self-management’ structure intended to unite all the residents in the common cause of caring for their living space, they share responsibility for maintaining the buildings and grounds.
The project is unique, hence required a lot of creative thinking by the municipal officials. It all begun a year ago. Leon Bobbe, CEO of the social housing corporation De Key, had to find a new location to put hundreds of empty container apartments. These low-cost mobile dwellings have become a popular solution for student housing in Amsterdam.
Anybody under the age of 28 could apply; the applicants had to fill out a questionnaire in addition to the usual paperwork and explain their motivation for wanting to join this particular project. The selection of the refugees was the responsibility of the municipality. In addition to being cleared to stay in the Netherlands, they also had to be under the age of 28 and to be alone; the project is not for couples or families.
This Startblok Riekerhaven housing experiment in Amsterdam is definitely an eye catcher for the rest of the world, which will undeniably help to curb the refugee crisis to a large extent.