Reasons for the housing shortage in the Netherlands

Sadly, there is not one single reason for the housing crisis in the Netherlands, or we could — with effort — fix that problem. There are reasons that have been building since the 1980’s.

In a recent discussion I came up with the following reasons for the housing crisis that each for themselves would not be too bad of a problem, but combined they form this cluster bomb:

  • Financial and policies:
    • Mortgage interest deduction which makes owning a house cheaper than renting one.
    • Low interest rates, people who have wealth can easily invest in housing (“buy to let”) and get a fair return on it. The low interest also makes this one of the few high return-low risk investment possibilities.
    • Social housing estates who had many dubious investments in the ’90’s-’00’s, had to be bailed out, and the government imposing a tax on them in the ’08 crisis means they can not really invest in new social housing, but have been selling off their inventory for the last two decades (I live in an ex-social-housing apartment), a supply that has now dried out.
    • New regulations on house financing (good) which make it so that people new on the housing market can no longer easily afford a house above a certain threshold (NHG-garantie) while the average is now far above that threshold, meaning even more pressure on the renting market.
    • The “Jubelton”, where parents can give their children a tax-free gift of €100.000 for buying a house. This has not made housing more accessible, but instead drove prices up.
    • Social rent gap: The social rent is pegged at about €700, but because there is a huge segment of people who can’t rent social (just too much income or too long a waiting list), and can’t buy (not eligible for mortgage because no wealth and too few income with current insane housing prices) there is a huge pressure on the underside of the “liberal housing market”, meaning there are basically no houses for rent between €700 and say €1100 (depending on the location).
    • “Wet Doorstroming Huurmarkt”, a law that increased the options for temporary rent contracts, hoping to improve the flow of renters to a more suitable house, but only having the effect of increasing rent, making investors richer and leaving renters unable to either live a stable live or build up any personal wealth.
    • Too much money and lending capacity available to both investors and genuine buyers (who want to live in their home).
    • House buying tax (Overdrachtsbelasting) went from 6% to 8% for investors and 2% for first-time-buyers under 35 last year (2020). Which meant a rush on houses from investors wanting to have the last cheap houses last year, then a rush on houses from first-time-buyers now (2021).
  • Social:
    • Race to the top, fear of missing out on a house so people overbid enormously for fear of not getting something else
    • A decade-long underconstruction of new housing, combined with a near-total stop of housing construction in the ’08-’10 financial crisis, which meant many (good) construction labour either retired or found other jobs, so there is still an immense shortage in skilled workforce.
    • Covid-19 which increased demands on houses with more space (inside and gardens), instead of the inner-city-studios of the “millennials”. These inside studios are still coveted (by investors) so still priced high, freeing them up don’t free up affordable space to renters.
  • Environmental
    • The nitrogen crisis is fairly recent and has not really added up to the housing crisis, but it won’t help either.
    • Pressure on greenfield building by competition from nature preservation, energy production (solar), industry (distribution parks) and agriculture

Repairing my fridge

I have a fridge I bought in 2009. In the door, there is a tray that holds heavy items like yoghurt cartons. That tray was held up with two tiny tabs on each side, which fall in a slot in the side of the tray. In 2013, those tabs broke off, which rendered the tray unusable. This means I had to put those cartons in the fridge proper, blocking access to the vegetable drawer (I had to remove all the cartons to access it) and making access to the bottom shelf more cumbersome.

This is annoying.

Ik heb in 2009 een koelkast gekocht. In de deur zit een rekje waar de zware dingen zoals yoghurtpakken op staan. Dat rekje werd vastgehouden met twee kleine tabjes aan elke kant, die in een sleuf aan de zijkant van het rekje passen. In 2013 zijn deze tabjes afgebroken, waardoor ik het rekje niet meer kon gebruiken. Dit betekende dat ik de yoghurtpakken in de koelkast zelf moest plaatsen, waardoor ik niet meer bij de groentela kon (ik moet alle pakken uit de koelkast halen voor ik hem open kan maken) en ook niet meer makkelijk bij de dingen op de onderste plank.

Dit is vervelend.

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Using the LCD

I found an old beaten-up CD player a while back, and decided to take out the human interface card, with the LCD and buttons on it.

In a previous episode, I managed to get the LCD to do something. Now, I will try to let it do exactly what I want it to do!

The first task is to find out what segments is controlled by what segment to the chip(s). In Controlling the card, I found out how to send the chips data — basically I have to send an 80-bit sequence to the two chips, of which 2*4 bits are chip control data. This leaves 72 bits of data to control 57 segments, so some of the chip’s capacity was unused.

My first plan of attack is simple: in the previous episode I learnt how to listen for keypresses, so my idea was to make a simple keypress-driven loop trough all the 72 data bits, to see which segment will light up.

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Scanning keys

Now that I deciphered where everything goes and how everything works, it was time to make sure I build a foundation to make the I/O a little more usable, instead of fetching raw data. Fist stop: make the input buttons accessible.

Working with keypresses is actually not as simple as I intuitively thought. If you have one button attached to one input pin and do a simple digitalRead(pin);, then you know your button is pressed. But if you want to do an action only once on every key press? You could have a little variable that keeps track of whether the key was not pressed last time and is now — basically working on the leading edge. But then you still have the problem of key bounce to take care of.

And what if you want to detect long presses (e.g. to go into a settings menu) or held presses (press once to increase a counter, keep pressing to keep increasing it)?

But first, the basics, how to detect a simple keypress with the scan matrix used in this board?

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Controlling the card

I found an old beaten-up CD player a while back, and decided to take out the human interface card, with the LCD and buttons on it.

In a previous post, I found out where all the connections on the PCB go and how they connect the buttons, LCD and chips together and what they do. Now, I will try to see whether I can control them.

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Interfacing with a human interface card

I found an old beaten-up CD player (a Philips AK601) next to the trash container a while back.
I picked it up, found it not worthy of being taken back into use, so I decided to open it up and maybe gut it for parts. I found a couple of motors inside, but what really drew my interest was the human interface card, or the print which holds the buttons and LCD.

The card is a one-sided PCB, with on the backside (the green side which holds the traces) three ICs, and on the other side an LCD screen (with what seems to be two incandescent lightbulbs as backlight, 8 diodes, 13 buttons, one capacitor, one transistor, a 9-strand ribbon cable that connects to the motherboard and a hell of a lot (25ish) wire links.

The LCD is an interesting one: it has 6 7-segment digits and a few more items, like whole-word PAUSE, SHUFFLE etc, separate digits 1-6 (presumably for a cd changer) and two “cd” icons.

Enhanced picture of the LCD segments. Dirt also enhanced.

My curiosity was triggered by how simple everything looked and I started on a quest to understand this board.

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Track plan sites — Track maps of the trains Netherlands, and partially of Belgium, Germany and other countries, and tram & metro of the Netherlands (formerly — Track maps of most French city rail (metro & tram) systems and a few abroead, among which London — Network maps of most urban rail systems in the world — Track maps of most of European’s urban (tram & metro) networks

Railway Codes — Track maps of some of the UK’s tram systems

A Complete and Geographically Accurate NYC Subway Track Map — The NYC subway including Manhattan and Bronx’ LIRR, PRR and other railroads

Binders for cables — Bindstripjes voor snoeren

As any tinkerer, I have a lot of cables — power cords, USB cords, network cables and the like. I litterally have 5 drawers full of them. The problem is getting the cords to not coil up.

Zoals iedere knutselaar heb ik een heleboel snoeren — stroomkabels, USB-snoertjes, netwerkkabels etcetera. Ik heb letterlijk 5 laden vol snoeren.

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Restoring a template / een sjabloon restaureren

The ship I sailed on a lot, the Ebenhaëzer, is a so-called klipperaak — a ship with the front of a clipper and the rear of an aak.
The front of a clipper — sometimes — has klipper curls [examples], which is a painted floral ornament, symmetrical on both sides

Het schip waar ik veel op gevaren heb, de Ebenhaëzer, is een klipperaak, wat altijd uitgelegd is als “een schip met een klipperkop en een akenkont”.
Op de voorsteven van een klipper zitten — soms — klipperkrullen [voorbeelden], ofwel een geschilderd lofwerk, symmetrisch aan beide kanten.

The Ebenhaëzer has clipper curls. [Kasper] wanted to build a chest and paint it Ebenhaëzer-style, so needed a template.
Fortunately, the ship’s paperwork binder has a template, used when the head of the ship is re-painted.

Ook de Ebenhaëzer heeft klipperkrullen. [Kasper] wilde een kist maken en vervolgens schrilderen in Ebenhaëzer-stijl, en had dus een klipperkrullen-sjabloon nodig. Gelukkig zit er in het motorboek van de Ebenhaëzer een sjabloon, voor als de kop geschilderd moet worden.

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GR 412 Sentier des Terrils E1: Eijsden — Blegny — Micheroux

I decided to walk the GR412 – Sentier des Terrils — a walk along the coal mining axis — and thus spoil tip (Terril) axis of Wallonia. The GR runs from Blegny, close to Maastricht, to Bernissart, on the French border.

Ik heb besloten de GR412 – Sentier des Terrils te lopen — een wandeling langs de kolenwinningsas — en dus steenberg-as van Wallonië. De GR loopt van Blegny, bij Maastricht, naar Bernissart, dicht bij de Franse grens.

Red: my route. Blue: GR412
Rood: mijn route. Blauw: GR412
Stage / Etappe : 1
Date  / Datum  : 14-12-2019
From  / van    : Eijsden (NL) (57m)
To    / naar   : Micheroux (277m)
Km             : 30.79km
Time           : 7h03m
Terrils        : 2 (0 climbed / beklommen)
Weather        : First sunny, then cloudy, 11°C, occasional rainshowers
      / weer   : Eerst zonnig, later bewolkt, 11°C, af en toe regenbuien
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