Minister Hugo de Jonge has sent the policy agenda Public Housing and Spatial Planning Caribbean Netherlands to the House of Representatives. The plans focus on stimulating housing construction, lowering rental costs, better financing of owner-occupied houses and a better-protected living environment. In this way, the central government, together with the Public Entities, is building affordable housing in a liveable neighbourhood.
Housing and Spatial Planning Minister Hugo de Jonge: “For many people in the Caribbean Netherlands, it is very difficult to find a house that suits their income, stage of life or family composition. These joint plans will lead to more affordable housing and a better living environment for residents of the Caribbean Netherlands.”
Getting the basics right
Currently, up-to-date data on the housing markets of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba are lacking. This makes it difficult to facilitate affordable and suitable housing. Therefore, the basics need to be put in order. Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) will collect data on among others, the existing amount of housing, the housing shortage and residents’ housing needs. In addition, laws and regulations are needed to establish rent committees and better rent compensation, for instance. These plans involve just under €20 million.
515 new homes
The demand for and supply of housing on Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba are out of balance. There is high demand for housing for low- and middle-income earners, but supply is limited. To better balance supply and demand, the central government will contribute financially to the construction of 465 social housing units on the three islands. In addition, 50 affordable owner-occupied houses will be built on Bonaire. To make better use of existing housing, 100 social housing units on St Eustatius will be renovated. But, more is needed. Future housing projects will be laid down in 2023 in housing deals between the central government and Public Entities.
Encouraging affordable housing
Due to scarcity and increased prices, affordable rental or owner-occupied housing has become a reality for fewer and fewer people in the Caribbean Netherlands. For instance, a portion of tenants has difficulty paying the rent. To lower the housing costs of people with small wallets, efforts are being made to accelerate the construction of social housing, improve rent compensation and reduce energy costs, among other things. Thus, the islands are betting on energy conservation to combat energy poverty. Because a proportion of buyers cannot get financing for their owner-occupied homes, measures are being explored to improve financing options.
Setting spatial course
The construction of houses leads to increased use of available space in the Caribbean Netherlands. But infrastructure, energy facilities, working, nature, recreation and tourism are also taking up an increasing share of the limited space available in the Caribbean Netherlands. To give direction to all these spatial developments, the Council of Ministers will adopt a spatial development programme in 2023. This programme will then be translated by the central government and the Public Entities into a specific spatial development plan for each island.