During World War II, more than 25% of Holland's two million dwellings were damaged: 95,000 dwellings were completely destroyed, 55,000 were seriously damaged, and 520,000 were slightly damaged. The housing shortage remained acute until 1950, when an accelerated program of housing construction began, and in 1953 the government decided to increase the house-building program to a level of 65,000 dwellings a year. Since then, the production rate has far exceeded both the prewar rate and yearly forecasts. From 1945 to 1985, nearly four million dwellings were built. In 1985 alone, 98,131 dwellings were built, bringing the total housing stock to 5,384,100 units by the end of the year. Most of the new units were subsidized by the national government. Subsidies are granted to municipalities, building societies, and housing associations, which generally build low-income multiple dwellings. Government regulations, which are considerable, are laid down in the Housing Act of 1965 and the Rental Act of 1979.
In 2000, the number of dwellings was at about 6,588,000, with an average of 2.3 residents per dwelling. The number of residents per dwelling has nearly halved since WWII. Approximately 90,000 new dwellings were constructed in 1996, down from 94,000 in 1995, and 98,000 in 1985. Of these, 75% were one-family houses; 69% were owner-occupied and 31% were rented.
The government determines on an annual basis the scope of the construction program. On the basis of national estimates, each municipality is allocated a permissible volume of construction. Within this allocation, the municipalities must follow certain guidelines; central government approval is required for all construction projects exceeding a specific cost. All construction must conform to technical and aesthetic requirements, as established by the government.