Speak Dutch and you can buy a house cheaply
Fifteen houses in the Flemish Brabant city of Vilvoorde are being sold cheaply to people with a modest income - only if they speak elementary Dutch.25 June 2008
BELGIUM – Fifteen houses that are being sold at rock bottom prices to people with modest income in the Flemish Brabant city of Vilvoorde have created a stir.
One of the conditions for the houses states that interested buyers must prove that they have an elementary knowledge of Dutch.
Like many Flemish Brabant municipalities close to Brussels, Vilvoorde is confronted with spiralling house prices and an increasing number of Francophones moving from the capital to the city.
Keen to maintain Vilvoorde's Dutch-speaking culture, the council decided to ask anyone wanting to purchase one of the cut price homes to prove that they have a least have an elementary knowledge of Dutch.
Those who have studied at a Dutch-medium school can offer a copy of their final exam certificate as proof.
Other candidates must take a test to prove that they have at least some knowledge of the local language.
Wives, husbands and partners must also prove that they know at least some Dutch.
The 15 houses are to be sold for between EUR 64,000 and EUR 121,000 and are far below their market value.
The language-related conditions imposed by the City of Vilvoorde go further than in other Flemish Brabant municipalities.
Recently, the municipal authority in near-by Zaventem came under fire came under international fire, after it decided to only sell plots of building land to people that had at least agreed to learn Dutch.
Meanwhile, Zaventem Council has allocated most of the plots.
As is the case now in Vilvoorde, the Zaventem branch of the radical Francophone party FDF are accusing the municipal authority of discriminatory practices.
The Christian Democrat Mayor of Vilvoorde, Marc Van Asch, told the VRT that the language test is a "social measure".
"One in two unemployed people in Vilvoorde are out of work because they don't know the language."
"Everyone is welcome in our city. We're only asking that people have an elementary knowledge of Dutch."
[flandersnews.be / Flickr contributor LHoon / Expatica]
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