Ombudsmen urge government to act on rising homelessness


The national ombudsman and the children’s ombudsman have joined forces to urge the government to do more to solve the problem of homelessness.

They have written to prime minister Mark Rutte urging him to take responsibility for the problem. ‘We have lots of plans of action, debates and questions in parliament but the number of homeless people continues to grow, as does the waiting list for emergency shelters,’ the ombudsmen say.

The problem is so serious that it needs national approach and local authorities are not equipped to deal with it, the letter said.

The national statistics office CBS estimates 39,000 people in the Netherlands do not have a place to live and that their number has doubled in 10 years. The figures do not include people living permanently in shelters.

Some 84% of homeless people are male and most are concentrated in the four big cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Around half have an ethnic minority background.

In October, the four big Dutch cities wrote to the cabinet calling for more funding and last month, the Salvation Army added its voice to the campaign.

‘The problem is very simple,’ spokesman Menno de Boer said. ‘There is not enough suitable housing in the Netherlands.’

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