The Changing Tenant Profile of Dutch Social Rented Housing

The Changing Tenant ProŽfile of Dutch Social Rented Housing
Veronique A. J. M. Schutjens, Ronald van Kempen and Jan van Weesep
[Paper Žrst received, September 2000; in Ž nal form, July 2001]
Summary. This article deals with the changes in the tenant proŽ le of the social rented stock in the Netherlands. It is inspired by the question whether the sector may be subject to a residualisation trend. The wider importance of such a phenomenon is that of the social
marginalisation of the people concerned in general. Moreover, if the position of the social rented stock can be shown to be deteriorating, it would also ilustrate a tendency to social polarisation in the redeŽ ned welfare state. Social and income polarisation in Western societies has been extensively investigated but, so far, polarisation tendencies in housing have largely been ignored. This article seeks to show that this omission should be rectiŽ ed because changes in tenant proŽ les reveal wider developments. It also aims to uncover the impact of policy in this respect. The analysis of the changing position of the social rented sector during the period leading up to and folowing the housing policy reform of 1989 constitutes the core of the paper. The aim of that policy change was to improve the match between the tenants’ ability to pay and the cost of housing as a means of reducing the burden of rent subsidies on the state. The reform has been hailed as an example of the effectiveness of policy-making. However, the analysis shows that the role of the social rented sector had already been shifting during the 1980s, wel before the announcement of the overhaul of housing policy. This result ilustrates that policy may simply codify decisions made in a network of actors rather than initiate change on its own accord.

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