Golden megaphone for tenants
A few weeks ago, the Housing Office – run by SSH – upgraded the flooring in the Plutolaan international student house. ‘At various addresses – for example Plutolaan, Diaconessen House and Moesstraat – we are making renovations, such as replacing floors, painting and replacing mattresses’, SSH spokesperson Annemiek van Vondel says. More improvements are planned over the summer when the buildings are emptier, Van Vondel adds.
Although SSH is making the improvements, it’s the tenants of the Housing Office facilities that got an award yesterday. ROOD, the youth members of the Socialist Party, presented a golden megaphone to the residents of the Housing Office-owned Plutolaan student house on Thursday.
The SP members made the gesture to congratulate the tenants with the visible improvements that have been made to the properties rented out by the Housing Office. ROOD spokesperson Siewert Olthof says, ‘The tenants have made this happen by continuing to call upon the Housing Office to fulfill their responsibilities to their tenants.’
Mold and damaged floors
ROOD got involved with the cause of improving international student housing after seeing the Experiences from Groningen’s Housing Office Facebook page. Tenants submitted photos of mold, damaged floors and unclean common spaces in several Housing Office-owned properties.
Now, Olthof says, ‘Spaces are cleaner, walls have been repaired and holes have been patched up. Without the involvement of the tenants and ROOD, these changes would not have happened.’
The founder of the Experiences from Groningen’s Housing Office also thinks the page made a difference. ‘I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t admit it’s because of the page’, he says. ‘But, after complaining and opening the page, they sent a person to check the problems.’
Not fueled by the campaign
However, Van Vondel says that the company was not pressured to act. ‘The approach that SSH is taking in Groningen has always been to provide qualitatively better housing. This was not fuelled by the campaign from ROOD or the Facebook page.’
Van Vondel says SSH’s focus is to be open to tenants and to help fix their problems. ‘We think that it’s important to discuss the issues with residents. We also hope that residents always feel they can come to us with their complaints.’