The Dutch coalition government has agreed that refugees will no longer have priority over other residents when it comes to rent-controlled housing.
‘This means that people on waiting lists will not lose out because of refugees,’ prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters following Monday’s weekly coalition meeting.
The coalition has also agreed to build more ‘sober’ housing units to reduce the pressure on refugee centres. This will include housing in converted shipping containers and empty offices, Rutte said.
Some 13,000 refugees with residence permits are still living in official asylum seeker centres because there are no alternatives available.
Pressure has been mounting on the coalition to tackle the housing issue as a matter of urgency as more refugees continue to arrive.
VVD parliamentary party leader Halbe Zijlstra said at the weekend refugees should be provided with only very basic facilities. Those on temporary residence permits ‘can live on €20 in container-like accommodation,’ Zijlstra told the AD.
During today’s talks, the parties also decided that refugees’ rent and insurance premiums will be paid directly by the government. This will reduce their basic benefits and remove the need for supplementary benefits, Rutte said.
It is unclear if this will actually result in cost savings, the Volkskrant points out.
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