Residents want to come up with a solution for the housing shortage themselves during the citizens’ summit in Wormer

Seniors not at 20 high, fill in tiny houses and forgotten corners. It is a selection of the most diverse plans that are written on large sheets of paper in sports hall De Spatter in Wormer. More than three hundred residents from Zaanstreek-Waterland put their heads together today to find a solution for the large housing shortage in the region.

It is day one of the big citizens’ summit and, despite the bad weather, it was immediately well attended. The huge participation project must become a serious initiative that really listens to the citizens. The participants who came to the sports hall today hope that this will really happen. “If you want to have something to say, you have to participate,” says one participant. Another says that they are working on it all day so that they will certainly listen.

Zaanstad, Wormerland and Purmerend are participating in the project and have already indicated that they will give the ideas a fair chance. “We will get started with any good ideas that come out of it,” promises Zaanstad’s alderman for housing, Harrie van der Laan. However, the plans must first be examined for feasibility. “It’s not like we say thank you for participating, we’re really going to do something with it,” said the alderman.

Not conceived from behind a table

Meanwhile, the sheets of paper on the tables are filled with writing. Making vacancy habitable, building green, but not in the green, is common on the sheets of paper. There are many ideas, but not everyone knows how to implement them. “It is always a surprise what the participants come up with”, says Mirjam de Pagter of the foundation. They organize the event and guide the residents throughout the project. The central question is what living in Zaanstreek-Waterland should look like in the future

According to alderman Van der Laan, the ideas can be very innovative. “People who are involved in the profession can often think in a box,” he says. “You do this for the people in the area, and if they come up with good ideas, it’s different than if you come up with it behind a table.”

In the coming weeks, all ideas will be further elaborated, on 1 July there will be a citizens’ council and a vote will be taken on the proposals that have been made.