photo: John Samson

AMSTERDAM – Imagine this: becoming homeless during the corona crisis in the middle of Amsterdam without any family to turn to. One hour before Chanté from Curaçao had to leave her student housing room, she still didn’t have a place to go to.

The past couple of days have been stressful for nine students who came to Amsterdam from Curaçao last year, because their temporary lease agreement with the Curaçaoan student finance provider SSC, is up. They didn’t manage to find new accommodation after their first year of study.

The students came to the Netherlands under the guidance of the SSC and they got a room for the first year as a stepping stone. After the first year they need to have found their own room. The majority of students manages to do this.

According to student Chanté she was not well informed about this on Curaçao nor did she receive any guidance on how to find a room on her own. “I only found out about the long wait lists when I got here and the corona crisis has made it harder to find a room. The amount of stress is huge.”

Students help each other, but not everyone has a room
Everyone doesn’t have a room yet. At the last moment, several students managed to get temporary accommodations. In Zeist for example, which is about an hour away by public transport from the city where they study, Amsterdam.

“Pressure was applied by two students to get a room. Afterwards they offered the other students shelter, in their little rooms”, according to former student Darren Arnell. He was shocked by the earlier posts on social media and had to help the students with the move and contacting the right people.

Yearly problem
A lack of housing is a problem which returns yearly. Those who find a different room have to pay rent twice. Students can only get an extra loan to cover the last month of double rent payments. “If I had gotten a room in May, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it”, says first year student Chanté. “That makes it very thrilling.”

According to the SSC, it is ‘financially impossible’ for the institution to keep on paying the rent on the rooms which become vacant. “You are also not required to take a room from the SSC.”

A spokesperson for the SSC emphasizes that the students are well informed and that they know what they’re getting themselves into. “We’re not just leaving them to their own devices. We’re trying to find a temporary solution for these students.”

Reporter John Samson with Chanté (23) in Amsterdam