Big financial mess looms for Hudsonlaan tenants

Hudsonlaan financial trouble
Photo credit: Bas Schuts/Studio040

Tenants of the flats on Eindhoven’s Hudsonlaan are anxiously awaiting a final decision of The Hague (Dutch government) on compensation for skyrocketing energy prices. From February, the price for block heating went up by €450 per month – that amount is in addition to the rent. “We are very worried”, Mr. K., who is a member of the board of directors, said.

For many people living in the flats, that amount is impossible to cough up. “My husband and I have an AOW (state pension), from that we can keep a car on the road and occasionally smoke a cigarette, but that’s all it is. Putting an extra amount like that on the table every month is really out of the question”, Ineke, who lives with her husband in an apartment on Hudsonlaan, tells Studio040. “And we’re really not the only ones with this problem. Other people who live here are also very worried”.

The looming money problems of tenants of the flats with block heating, also seemed to be on the agenda of the Municipality of Eindhoven. In answers to council questions from Ouderen Appèl (elderly appeal), the city council made it clear that financial help is on the way. For example, the earnest money arranged through for WijEindhoven (social support organisation) is being increased and people in trouble can use special assistance.

Payment scheme
Still, not everyone with financial problems can simply turn to the city government, the municipality announced. Tenants who are in dire straits must first make arrangements with housing corporation Woonbedrijf, then a payment arrangement can be made. How deep people must be in debt before they do receive help from city hall, the municipality could not say.

“People can additionally adjust their monthly energy bill advance downward”, Woonbedrijf informs. “Should the bill then still be too high, a payment arrangement can be made”. How many people have since reduced the advance payment, Woonbedrijf could not say. Moreover, tenant Ineke does not see the reduction as a sustainable solution.

“We have reduced the monthly energy bill advance indeed. But I am very worried about the final bill we are going to get at the end of the year. I am afraid I will have to sell my car but that would be a disaster. My husband is struggling with health problems and we really need the car to be somewhat mobile”.

Compensation from The Hague
From the Municipality of Eindhoven it sounds that for the tenants on Hudsonlaan, also from The Hague, money is on the way in the form of a compensation scheme. For the first half of 2023, people renting an apartment with block heating could receive a compensation of €785, for the second half of the year €275 would be available. The regulations just need to be approved.

Tenant Ineke doesn’t think that amount will help. “That’s just over a thousand euros. But I already have to pay €500 a month more than before. So then I am compensated for two months. That doesn’t help us”, the tenant said. “My husband thinks they made a mistake at Woonbedrijf, and are now burdening us with the problems”, Ineke said.

Purchasing collective
But that’s slightly different, it sounds from Woonbedrijf. “We buy energy collectively with other housing associations. That way we can buy it for a lower price. That happens through purchasing collective ‘Aenergie’ “.

But the purchasing collective cannot do magic, and faces the fact that the price ceiling for energy only counts for individual households that purchase energy. For purchasing collectives, energy suppliers can keep prices as high as they want. And the consequences are felt by the tenants of the apartments with block heating.

“We always buy that energy annually”, a Woonbedrijf spokesperson let it be known. However, that purchasing strategy does seem to be a miscalculation for the tenants with block heating now. After all, there would have been no problem if the purchasing collective had signed a multi-year contract in time. “Whether the strategy from Aenergie is going to change now, we dare not say”, the spokesperson of Woonbedrijf said.

Holiday money
Either way, Ineke and other tenants are at risk of a financial blow. “As long as they don’t start thinking that I’m going to hand in my holiday money to pay the bill”, the tenant concludes combatively.

Source: Studio040
Translated by: Bob

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