Eindhoven is witnessing an influx of more internationals. People from all over the world come to work in the region. Many Eindhoven residents see their neighbourhood changing, and are not always happy about it. The CDA and the SP also see the gap between expats and native residents growing in the neighbourhoods.
There is regular grumbling about this in the De Mortel community centre in the Achtse Barrier. An elderly lady, who is having coffee in the community centre with a whole table full of peers, can still remember the first time she realised the impact of all those expats in the neighbourhood. “I suddenly thought: those houses here bring in a lot of money! At least a ton more! Later it turned out that someone from ASML had moved there.”
Not only are house prices higher, the atmosphere has also changed. The sense of solidarity in the Achtse Barrier, which used to be very strong, has almost disappeared, according to the early residents.
“It’s not the way it used to be anymore,” sighs a man who has been volunteering in the neighbourhood for years. He has lived in the Achtse Barrier for more than 40 years. “In the beginning it was nice here, one big family. And everyone wanted the same thing. We even bought sod together. That atmosphere of conviviality, it’s a shame that it has disappeared.”
The internationals themselves admit it: in most neighbourhood activities they are at best on the sidelines. “I always go to watch during carnival, but more as a spectator than as a real participant,” says an expat, during lunch in a restaurant on the High Tech Campus.
Politicians are also concerned, as became clear during a debate last week at Eindhoven city hall. Both the SP and the CDA identify a gap between original residents and internationals. “It is not so bad that people live in their bubble. It does become worrying if residents in a neighbourhood no longer speak to each other,” says CDA leader Remco van Dooren. “The large influx of expats to Eindhoven means that neighbours can often no longer understand each other,” adds Jannie Visscher of the SP.
There is no specific policy to close the gap between original residents and internationals. Residents of the Achtse Barrier do have a solution in mind. “They should just look in the local magazine ‘t Barrierke to see what there is to do here,” suggests a volunteer walking around with a pot of coffee. “Just come along, there’s always something to do.” Then she realises that ‘t Barrierke is not published in English. “It might be a good idea to translate it…”
For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez