The Rotterdam municipality has rapped one of its local housing associations on the knuckles for selecting its tenants on the basis of their education. “An association is entitled to try and attract a certain target group, but may not exclude anyone.”

The association’s advertising leaflet posed the question: “Are you between 20 and 35 years old? Are you a graduate or still a university student? If so, please come to our open house.” However, selecting on the basis of either age or educational level is forbidden, and the municipality had to haul the housing association back into line, according to the Algemeen Dagblad, a Dutch daily newspaper.

For a number of years, Oude Noorden, a district of Rotterdam, has been experimenting with the idea of attracting ‘new and different target groups’. Previously the district had a bad reputation, but now it’s ‘the trendiest part of Rotterdam’.

'Everyone’s welcome’

According to the housing association everyone was welcome, but the question is, given the advertisement, will the less well educated have any chance. In the municipality’s opinion, no specific groups should ever be intentionally excluded.

A spokesperson for the Woonbond, a national tenants’ association, stated that it was not customary for tenants to be selected on the basis of their educational level. “As a housing association, there are various ways you can promote neighbourhood diversity without excluding anyone.”

The Algemeen Dagblad also reported that MPs from D66 [Democrats 66], GroenLinks [Green Left] and SP [the Socialist Party] were extremely unhappy about the experiment. A person’s education, or lack of it, should never affect their ability to find a home. “Soon, the district will just consist of yuppies and the highly educated,” warned the SP.