How a Dutch Housing Agency Rescued an Amsterdam Street From the Drug Trade

Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Economic Development Housing Safety & Security


Zeedijk, a street in Amsterdam, used to be a marketplace for heroin. Residents started moving out as drug dealers took up the streets. On May 19, 1983, the residents demanded that their local government do something about it. The government increased policing and implemented a treatment-based approach to tackle heroin addiction. The city joined with the city business association and community centre to form NV Zeedijk and finance the plan to rehabilitate the community. Later, banks and property firms invested. NV Zeedijk is 75% funded by the municipality and independently run. The rent-controlled sector makes up 50% of Amsterdam’s housing stock with rent-controlled housing contracts accounting for a third of NV Zeedijk’s housing stock. They try to keep the rents as affordable as possible while generating sufficient income required for reinvestment to ensure diversity. The reinvestment is put towards new properties and more affordable housing. Airbnb is not allowed and all prospective tenants have to submit a letter of motivation that outlines their enthusiasm for the area and how they will contribute to it. The organization actively works to keep residents in the community. These changes have led to people moving back in and the street itself has become a symbol of resilience.

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