SSH cleaning up at Diaconessenhouse

Residents of the Diaconessenhouse received an email from SSH on Friday explaining what action is being taken to fix the problems in the housing complex.

The message, signed by Groningen manager for the housing organization Jolien Stokroos, arrived in student’s inboxes on Friday as promised.

The text began with an apology to the international student residents for the issues they have been dealing with and how long it has taken in some cases for them to be addressed.

‘It has not been pleasant’

‘We understand that it has not been pleasant that things were broken when you arrived in Diaconessenhouse’, the message reads. ‘We also know that some of the complaints should have been handled faster than happened. We spoke with some students individually and solved their complaints. However, we apologise for the current problems that have not been resolved yet and we do our utmost to have them fixed soon.’

The SSH email was in response to a letter submitted on behalf of the residents to the organisation in early November, which included a long list of inconveniences and hazards the students felt they were facing in their building. The presence of loosely bound asbestos, broken window blinds and heaters, malfunctioning laundry machines and kitchen equipment, leaking plumbing and a general lack of cleanliness and safety were included among the grievances.

Repaired or replaced

Several students were threatening to withhold their rental payment and refusing to pay other fees related to their accommodations. In the response on Friday, Stokroos explained how SSH has already begun to fix the biggest problems and what actions will be taken in the near future.

According to the letter, the asbestos was safely removed last week and a plumber has repaired the leaks. Extra visits from a cleaning company will be scheduled and vertical blinds will either be repaired or replaced.


The message also urged students to continue to notify SSH about any problems, including technical issues such as Internet connectivity and missing or broken kitchen equipment.

The building, a former hospital, is scheduled for demolition in 2016. As such, SSH’s representative in Groningen admits that only certain measures can be taken to improve the living conditions. ‘Diaconessenhouse is an old building. We cannot make large improvements. However, we can and will do our utmost best to solve existing and new technical problems.’

Diaconessenhouse is one of fourteen properties operated by SSH in Groningen. The Utrecht-based SSH took over the Housing Office in January of 2015.