There are several hofje (what we would call 'almshouses' in the UK) in Haarlem (as in other Dutch towns/cities).
Basically, they were created to provide housing for the elderly from the 1600s onwards (in both countries). What we in the UK would now call 'sheltered housing'.
Because it was so cold and snowy I only managed to seek out one in Haarlem, the rather grandly-designed Teyler's Hofje. Set on the riverside on Koudenhorn it has a very posh pillared entrance, with some pretty plasterwork frills and twiddles inside its entrance porch.
Once through the main entrance a series of small dwelings are set around a central courtyard/garden.
Worth seeking out, especially if you are taking a wander along the riverside.
Address: barrevoetestraat 7
The Almshouse founded by the Van Loo family was originally intended for “Thirteen poor or needed people, be it priests or others who lead a good life.” The van Loo family is not only known for founding this almshouse. According to folklore, one of the van Loo’s took part in the crusade to Damiate in 1219 which is well known by the people of Haarlem. Three of the houses were knocked down due to widening the Barrevoetesteeg
Address: Tuchthuisstraat 8
The Roeper family was favourably disposed towards the brewers Guild. The family donated buildings on the Tuchthuisstraat to the brewers Guild to house impoverished women when they were no longer able to work for the breweries. The almshouse was burnt down in the big fire of 1576 but in 1586 it was rebuilt on the same site.
Address: Klein Heiligland 64
In the Middle Ages, a “Gasthuis” or Guesthouse was a house were travellers could stay for one or more nights. As most of the travellers in those days were pilgrims, in founding a guesthouse, you were also performing a good deed.
Address: Wijde Appelaarssteeg 11
In the Middele Ages "Kamer"or "Room" ment house. Usually houses within an Almshouse (hofje/little yard) consisted of just one room. The inscription above the entrance gate of this almshouse, which is the oldest in Haarlem, is noteworthy:
The foundation of
Dirck van Bakenes
for women eight
and twice six
(therefore 20 women) but the verse above the gate can be interpreted differently, that the women had to be eight times six and two times six (=60) to be admitted.
Please visit the 'Hofjes'of Haarlem. 'Hofjes'are nice inner city gardens, hidden between the houses, with little houses around them for the older people. Originally build for old ladies by the rich members of the town. There are 'Hofjes' of several centuries. The VVV-office at the trainstatoin square can provide you with a map.