Housing minister Stef Blok is looking into withdrawing the rule giving approved refugees priority in social housing, he told MPs on Thursday.
Speaking during a debate on his ministry’s spending plans for 2016, Blok said he would first discuss the issue with housing corporations, local councils and other interest groups. ‘I will not rule out any option,’ Blok said.
VVD parliamentarians have called on the government to scrap the priority treatment for refugees, saying the rule is unfair on locals who have been waiting for a suitable cheap home for years. The average waiting time for a rent-controlled property is seven years, nine in Amsterdam, the NRC reported.
Blok told MPs that scrapping the priority ruling will have disadvantages. For example, the cost of providing alternative accommodation for refugees will rise and it will be bad for integration, he said.
Socialist and Labour MPs called on Blok to encourage housing corporations to build more rent-controlled housing to meet the demand. They fear low-income families will have to wait even longer for a home because of the rise in refugee numbers.
However, the minister said the Netherlands has sufficient cheap housing. The main problem is that many rent-controlled properties are lived in by people whose salaries are technically too high to qualify, he said.
Rent-controlled housing accounts for the bulk of the Dutch rental sector but Blok is keen to see more homes built with rents of just over the €710 social housing limit.
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