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Cultural heritage or our future?

Our building was built somewhere half 17th century – like most of the buildings in #Leiden – and has seen many renovations since. In the last couple of decades, the building has been neglected and poorly managed by slum landlords. It has taken many complaints and a lawsuit to finally get some work done. And now, scaffolding has surrounded our apartment, blocking out the last bit of light we had – poor plants!

We were pleased to hear that they are finally going to do something about the sad state of our windows. Right now, the putty is gone, the paint is heavily damaged, the wood is rotten, and the single glass panes are almost falling out of their frames – it rains inside when the wind is coming from the wrong direction. Sadly enough, the work only contains some frame restoration – nothing will be done about the overall poor state of the property.

As you may have guessed, our apartment leaks everywhere and has very poor insulation and ventilation. If it was our own house – it isn’t because we can’t buy a home in today’s housing crisis (yaay 🤐) – this would not have been the case. For homeowners, sustainable investments can payout three times: a significantly lower energy bill, a comfortable house and a better price when selling the property. But a slumlord does not pay the energy bill, lives in their own comfortable house (so why maintain this one?), and already makes big bucks by keeping the rent as high as (legally) possible.

It doesn’t help that our government promotes the negligence of cultural heritage by choosing to subsidize restoration instead of prevention and making old houses more sustainable. In fact, alterations that change the face of the building are even prohibited. The property itself may be somewhat sustainable (circularity wise) but living in one is absolutely not. This makes us wonder why our government is spending so much money to keep old houses in the same state as 400 years ago? Right now, our city is proudly burning through an insane amount of gas to keep the face of our unsustainable city pretty. This raises the question: what is worth more – our cultural heritage or our future?

Elise & Joy

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