A Research to the Housing Needs and Wishes of Turkish and Moroccan Immigrants in Rotterdam

by Sanne Geers, Stichting Ouderenhuisvesting Rotterdam (SOR)

Rotterdam is the multicultural city of the Netherlands with around 170 different nationalities. This can lead to a large diversity of needs, for example in ​​housing needs en wishes. As a categorical housing corporation, SOR is for all the elderly, and specifically for the vulnerable elderly. Vulnerable refers to the elderly with a low income and/or a need for care. Migrants are an important group in Rotterdam. The Turks and Moroccans in particular are underrepresented in the houses of SOR, but make up a large proportion of elderly people from ethnic minorities in Rotterdam. SOR has initiated en conducted a research to the needs and wishes of these two groups of immigrants in Rotterdam.

There is a lot of scientific literature available about the wishes and needs with regard to housing and care of elderly Turkish and Moroccan people. This literature has been extensively researched, with the outcomes tested in Rotterdam practice. The empirical research was done on the basis of the qualitative method. As this research focuses on understanding from the perspective of the Turkish and Moroccan elderly, in-depth interviews and focus groups with a semi-structured approach have been used.

The data shows that Turkish and Moroccan elderly have different housing needs. These are often typical wishes and needs that all elderly people have, such as an elevator and a spacious shower and toilet. In addition, there are also typical housing requirements uncovered, such as the need for a minimum of two bedrooms and low rent. Regarding the wishes and needs in terms of location, the Turkish and Moroccan elderly almost never want to move from their current neighborhood. This is because of the habituation and familiarity in and with the neighborhood. If they do move, the location must meet specific requirements. There must be (in walking distance), a mosque, Islamic butchery, public transport, market and doctor. However, moving appears to be difficult for this target group, not only because of the often poor financial situation they are in, but also because of communication problems and the lack of knowledge of the housing distribution system. Finally, people prefer to live in a mixed neighborhood, the most important thing for this target group is not ethnicity, but that they have a “good” neighbor.

Turkish and Moroccan elderly people currently often have a large social life. In which people almost always do volunteer work or act as caretaker The elderly like to mean something to another; the feeling of being together and having a community is great. That is why there is a great need for a meeting room with (also specific religion and culture related) activities.

Based on the data, it can be concluded that Turkish and Moroccan elderly people almost always have care needs. However, professional care is often avoided due to communication problems and unfamiliarity. Moreover, the literature speaks about the expectation among Turkish and Moroccan elderly people that the children will take care of it. However, this study shows that there is not such an expectation, but there is a desire. Ideally, most respondents want customized care, with good communication and coordination between family and professionals and where culture and religion are taken into account.

Based on the results, it can be concluded that many housing needs and care needs that Turkish and Moroccan elderly have, correspond to native Dutch elderly. Communication problems and unfamiliarity with the current housing and care system and the possibilities that exist are an important point for attention. It can be concluded that the current system is either insufficiently known or insufficiently in line with the capacities of the Turkish and Moroccan elderly. This makes it a social issue. In addition to looking at the possibilities for adjustments in the system, it is crucial for the organization to make use of the current network of older migrants.

Sanne Geers (Rotterdam, 1993), has conducted research for SOR into the housing needs and care needs of Turkish and Moroccan elderly. In 2017, she graduated from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, with a degree in sociology. Already during her studies Sanne became interested in migrants. She conducted her master’s thesis research in  Los Angeles, United States, studying the family reunification intentions of Central American labor migrants. Currently, she is looking for a PhD position.