TU/e launches couchsurfing website for homeless students

The new academic year is about to start and the room shortage is still an issue in Eindhoven. An estimated 350 students do not yet have a room. "The TU/e is not responsible for accomodating students, but does want to try to help where possible," says Erik de Jong, community manager at the TU/e. And that help comes in the form of a couchsurfing platform where students, alumni and staff can temporarily offer an empty couch/mattress/guest room: www.aplacefornow.nl.

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photo Bridget Alcione Spoor

The project is really meant for and made possible by TU/e students, as there will be checked that the room seeker is registered with his or her TU/e email address on the website, De Jong says. In October 2019, Vestide will provide 300 extra temporary student rooms at the Slachthuisterrein on the Insulindelaan, near the campus. Therefore the TU/e’s initiative is really intended as a temporary solution, De Jong emphasizes. And it should help students not to force themselves to empty their pockets at expensive hotels as well as pay tourist tax. "Once the students are here in a temporary room, it will also be easier to find something permanent," De Jong thinks.

Education and Student Affairs (ESA) is the driving force behind this project and works together with students who spread the word. Among other means, the students' networks are used and a mailing is sent to encourage TU/e people to rent out a room/couch/bed and to make students in need aware of the initiative.

Bárbara Dias (bachelor’s student Architecture, Urbanism & Building Sciences), Joep Nieuwdorp (master’s student Applied Physics) and Leon Willems (bachelor’s student Data Science) all have their own reasons to participate in the project. Dias can still remember how hard it was to find a room when she came here and how often she let homeless students stay over for a while. "For internationals, ‘not having a room’ is not an option. Dutch students can travel up and down temporarily, but flying back and forth from Colombia daily is not possible. ”The room initiative is for all students, but internationals are expected to use it more. It is harder for them to get a room from abroad and they face #dutchonly here.

Privacy

De Jong is thinking of renting out a room himself: "I have some space left, so I am considering it." The students involved are interested as well, although it is not as easy for all of them. Dias lives together with a few housemates, so she first wants to talk to them about it. Nieuwdorp would like to offer a place on the website. "I have had couch surfers at home before and I always enjoyed it." Missing privacy is not a problem for Nieuwdorp because he is already used to it. “I live with seven roommates: I am always surrounded by people. Sometimes I come to the university to be alone for bit," he laughs. Willems thinks that you can start to miss privacy if the stayover would last longer. Dias therefore believes it is important to first get to know the potential tenant to see if there is a click.

Earning some extra money

Willems: “This is the last chance for many students to be able to find a room quickly. And it is a recurring problem so if this initiative works well, we can use it again next year. Nieuwdorp: "We are not under the illusion that we can help every student, but every student we do help, is one." It is not just altruism that counts here. There is also something in it for students who offer a room: they can agree on a financial compensation with the temporary tenant so that they can share part of their rent. Dias and Nieuwdorp immediately nod yes to the question whether that can convince students to take part in the project. “Making money is always interesting for students. If there are events with free food, it is always busy, so this will probably attract people as well," the students think.

Do you have a couch, mattress or even an entire room left and do you want to temporarily help your fellow student in need? Then register via www.aplacefornow.nl. If you are in need of a temporary place to stay, you can register here too.

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