TEMPORARY RENT CONTRIBUTION for all students in the Netherlands during coronavirus crisis

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The government's decision to close all cafés and restaurants and WHO's call for social distancing has left many students – previously part-time baristas, waiters, bartenders, babysitters, retail workers, tutors – without any source of income and social protection in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. A pandemic that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Most of us do not have any form of savings and live from paycheck to paycheck – we do, however, have to pay rent. The percentage of those who are lucky enough to live in affordable student housing is very low, and most of us do not qualify for the rent benefit (huurtoeslag) since we share our flat with others. We therefore have to pay the rent that sometimes goes up to as much as €850 a month in full. And while we may receive some financial help from our parents in the short run, it is definitely not a long-term solution – especially on the brink of an economic crisis.

International students have found themselves in a uniquely vulnerable position: they live alone in a foreign country without family or relatives to lean on, with no source of income or social protection, and most importantly – no way of going back home because of canceled flights and closed borders.

And then there's the student loan: a student loan EU students can only be eligible for if they work at least 56 hours every month, and other expats are completely excluded from. Even those who do receive the maximum benefit cannot live on it alone: €1,071 a month is not enough to cover rent (€750), food and household costs (€300), health insurance (€105), tuition fees (€208), utilities (€30), transportation, medication, and other expenses.

WHAT WE HOPE TO ACHIEVE THROUGH THIS PETITION:

  1. We hope the Dutch government addresses the situation students in the Netherlands are in as soon as possible and sheds light on how they are planning to aid Dutch and international students during the time of the coronavirus crisis.
  2. We hope to achieve a monthly government contribution to rent payment OR an extension of huurtoeslag's eligibility so that it includes non-self-sufficient housing as well, making it possible for all students to apply.
  3. We hope the Dutch government introduces a law that would protect tenants from being evicted for late rent payment during the time of the coronavirus crisis.
  4. We hope the Dutch government freezes the requirement for international students to work for at least 56 hours a month to be eligible for the student loan and travel product for the time of the coronavirus crisis.

Header image credit: REUTERS