The Majella Wonen initiative (or Majella Living) aims to offer affordable housing for people in shelters and to realize a pleasant neighborhood in a so-called “magical mix”. Portaal Wonen, a member of Aedes- the Association of Dutch Social Housing corporations and a member of Housing Europe- is one of the organizations behind this project.
This mix includes people with a contract through the care facility De Tussenvoorziening as well as other Portaal tenants. In total, there are about 70 residents, ranging from singles to cohabiting and families. Together, they form an active community. Portaal works on the project together with Tussenvoorziening and the municipality of Utrecht. Residents (ex-homeless) get the right guidance and support to enable them to make a new start. Eventually, after three years living independently, the rental contract is put on their own name.
The official opening of Majella Living in September 2016 in Utrecht was a true feast as one can see watching the video. Speaking with Portaal Wonen Senior Communications Adviser, Elmy Lieferink we asked her what was the key to the success of the project. Emmy highlights: “The key to the success is that we look for people who want to live together, share with others and help one another. We don’t want someone who just wants a house and nothing else and does not want to build a community. That is why we have other rules: we do not place the number one in line, but we prioritize those persons who want to share and build”.
As public, cooperative and social housing providers are confronted with new challenges that call on them to adapt the way they operate, is this project indicative of this transition? Elmy Liefferink says: “This way of housing is not everywhere possible. In most cases, we advertise the house on a website. People looking for a social dwelling can react there. In Utrecht, Portaal has 14.000 houses. But Majella Wonen and Place2BU, for instance, are projects in special buildings, with different rules. We will do more of these projects to give a better chance for refugees and those who are looking for a second chance, like former homeless or addicted persons”. At the same time, Elmy stresses the importance and the added value of providing professional support to the people who require it. Furthermore, to build a true community of people the role of the community manager is key.
The i-Opener Award
The i-Opener is an Award for innovative projects of Dutch social housing corporations. The competition wants to share initiatives that focus on tenants. To give their peers inspiration on issues that they are confronted with as well. The i-Opener is a joint initiative of Aedes and KWH. KWH is a not-for-profit association that supports Aedes members in improving their tenants’ experience.