Empty beds allocated to refugees granted a residence permit should be given to new asylum seekers, the Dutch refugee agency COA said at the weekend.
Refugees with a residence permit have a legal right to a place in a centre while waiting to be housed, but many of them prefer to lodge with friends or family, leaving around 1,000 empty beds.
At the same time, the growing number of asylum seekers at reception centres, where their asylum claim is processed, means these centres are becoming ever more crowded, the COA says.
Currently, around 28,000 people are living in reception centres. About half of them have been granted a temporary residence permit but cannot move on because of the dearth of beds in refugee centres.
Nowhere to live
Over the past five years, the number of refugees who are entitled to a home has risen from 5,300 to over 12,000 but they continue to occupy places at centres because there is nowhere else for them to live.
The COA wants to change the rules for these refugees so that if they go to live with family or friends they forfeit their right to a bed in a centre. They would, however, have to register with the centre every week.
The local authority association VNG is not enthusiastic about the plan, the NRC reports.
‘Councils which are responsible for finding accommodation for refugees will lose their overview of the situation because it will not be clear which refugee with which status lives where,’ a spokesman said.
‘An unintended consequence could also be that there is a concentration of refugees in particular areas of the large cities. It is not desirable for councils to lose control over the spread of refugees.’
Councils are legally obliged to house asylum seekers with a residence permit. The home affairs ministry works out every six months how many that will be, based on the size of each council.
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