Inclusive Cities for All

Pledge 29 – Utrecht

Pledge 29 – Utrecht

  • City: Utrecht
  • Name: Maarten Van Ooijen
  • Position: Deputy mayor of Utrech & vice-chair of the Social Affairs Forum
  • Intro: In Utrecht we always work together with the citizens for a healthy urban living for everyone
  • Country: The Netherlands

Utrecht has committed to promote four principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. In February 2019, the Deputy Mayor for Social Affairs, Maarten van Ooijen, now Chair of the EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum, signed a strong commitment to principle 19 (EPSR) on housing and assistance for the homeless.

Utrecht is committed to deliver a new strategy to prevent and combat homelessness as part of the city’s strategic approach for a Healthy Urban Living for Everyone.

Utrecht pledges to:

  • Improve the quality of shelters and care by offering 24-hour shelters with tailor-made assistance by a multi-disciplinary team of experts.
  • Provide sustainable solutions to prevent homelessness by identifying debts in time and offering quick assistance as well as providing continued guidance to former homeless people who found a place to live to prevent repeated homelessness.
  • Invest in Housing First by creating sufficient social housing and cooperating with local and national partners in the City Deal for an Inclusive City.

Then, on 18 October 2019, Utrecht pledged on principle 16 (EPSR), reaffirming its commitment to healthcare. Utrecht has drawn up a new strategy for ‘Healthy City’ consisting of wide and diverse actions across different areas of life, such as growing up healthy, healthy food, healthy living and healthy income.

This is translated into concrete actions such as:

  • Providing every child from 9 months to 6 years old with the opportunity to grow up healthy and to develop optimally
  • Ensuring a healthy income to the citizens with the programme Utrecht Debt Free.
  • Setting up dialogue with employees to secure a healthy work for everyone.
  • Building and promoting healthy urban environment for care facilities, sports, schools, parks, play areas, shops, meeting places.

Maarten van Ooijen, said: “Our goal as a human-rights city with housing as a fundamental social right is to enable everybody have a shelter and live a normal life.”

In September 2020, Utrecht joined Amsterdam’s initiative to sign a joint pledge, together with five other European cities, to equal opportunities, reaffirming their commitment to the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR). Helsinki, Gijón, Utrecht, Frankfurt, Ghent and Amsterdam joined efforts to ensure equal opportunities (principle 3 of EPSR), because they believe that, especially in these unprecedented times of the pandemic crisis, every person has the right to equal treatment. To achieve this, the cities are committed to take bold actions.

Utrecht is committed to ensuring a Debt Free City. To do so:

  • The city invests €6 million to free 20.000 households of their debts.
  • It is developing a Corona Crisis Pardon for debts linked to lockdown measures.

In October 2020, Utrecht signed its most recent pledge to the EPSR, by committing to promote  childcare and support to children (Principle 11).

To ensure children’s well-being during the Covid-19 crisis; Utrecht:

  • Made day care available for children in vulnerable families or whose parents were essential workers.
  • Provided internet and supplied hardware for families with limited resources, and offered high quality guidance for doing homework.
  • Organised summer schools and additional support programmes.

In the long-term, Utrecht commits to:

  • Offer tailor-made support to children who grow up in vulnerable and stressful circumstances.
  • Put children’s voices at the heart of the discussion on the future of the city, on issues such as youth care, poverty, art, or neighbourhood planning.
  • Develop the ‘Peaceful Schools Programme’, where children can put forward their ideas about a peaceful and democratic neighbourhood.
  • Work together with all stakeholders, such as schools, parents and volunteer organisations to reduce educational disadvantages.

Deputy Mayor van Ooijen said: “We welcome the initiative of the European Commission to develop the EU Child Guarantee and we ae ready to contribute to this with full dedication and integrate the guarantee in our work for a Healthy Urban Living for Everyone. Because local governments are crucial to ensure no child is left behind”