man jumping on intermodal container
Photo by Kaique Rocha on

Living in a 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) container house project on an old sportsground north of Amsterdam, 26-year-old Youri Hermes considers himself lucky: at least he has a roof over his head.

Many young people in the Netherlands "don't have that luxury," said the leadership coach, as a crippling housing crisis shapes up to be a key topic in Wednesday's knife-edge election, especially with the youth vote.

Hermes lives with 540 other young people, half of them refugees with a residence permit, in one of the "Startblokken" ("Starting Blocks") facilities that have sprung up recently in the Netherlands to ease the housing shortage.

The "Startblokken" project started in 2015 using refurbished metal shipping containers.

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