“You can’t live in bullshit, nor in a covenant.” Words spoken by then alderwoman Mary Fiers in early 2013 when the municipality and representatives of TU/e, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Summa College, housing corporations Wooninc., Sint Trudo, SWA and private investors representative Vastgoed Belang agreed to build approximately 1,500 student units by the year 2020. According to Torunoglu they have succeeded, but the increase in the number of (mostly international) students forces the municipality to renew this covenant. This is in line with the Action Plan Student Housing 2018-2021 that was signed by all knowledge cities on October the 4th last year.
Based on information from knowledge institutions in Eindhoven, the municipality expects that a number of 3,886 extra students will search for a room during the next five years. The majority, 2,280, are future students at TU/e, according to the action plan presented this afternoon. Torunoglu says it is important that the number of rooms increases in the short term. After consultation, the parties involved came up with seven measures that have to make this happen. However, Torunoglu immediately adds that these measures do not give any guarantees, but they will reflect the efforts the Steering Group Student Housing intends to make.
The Steering Group is going to do research on how institutions of education can renegotiate so-called ‘bulk contracts’ with landlords. Under such agreements, the institution is the main tenant and it can sub-let rooms to students. These contracts facilitate the financing of new projects. Temporary housing is also being considered. Torunoglu says this does not include shipping containers (some of which were located on TU/e’s campus site as well in the past), because more attractive housing forms are available. Talks are under way between the municipality and student housing corporation Vestide, owners of residential tower Aurora on the TU/e campus site. The Castiliëlaan and the Slachthuisterrein are both considered suitable locations.
The municipality is also looking into the possible obstacles that singles living in larger housing units might face if they were to let a room to students, as well as the willingness of landlords or housing corporations to sub-let. For this, permission is always needed.
Campus contracts are considered an essential step towards a solution. After completing or quitting their studies, tenants are supposed to vacate their room in order to stimulate the flow. Strict enforcement is imperative, but the representative of Vestide, Stan van den Thillart, says that this poses no problems. According to Torunoglu, the increase of housing supply for those who compete with students on the housing market might help as well. He refers to expats and economic migrants who have more money to spend and who make it impossible for students to rent small studios or rooms. This group should also be taken into account when building temporary housing units.
Students should also be allowed to rent a room together with a so-called ‘friendscontract.’ The Steering Group and the housing corporations will look into the possibility of offering these kinds of contracts to students and allowing them to combine their registration time. Finally, the Steering Group intends to ask surrounding cities for help. Torunoglu says talks are underway with Veldhoven and Nuenen, and he also mentions Helmond and Brandevoort as possible options. “A bus ride from those places to the city doesn’t take much longer than from Woensel-Noord.”
In conclusion, Torunoglu emphatically points out that these measures should not lead to problems in neighborhoods where an increase in the number of students might put pressure on the cohesion. “We need to find a balance between the number of houses for students and regular houses. Because everyone suffers when you do damage to the quality of life in a neighborhood. Fortunately, we have clear rules for this in Eindhoven.”