Shortage of homes for refugees with residency increases again

Refugees call for a change in policy outside parliament. Photo: MiGreat

The shortage of housing for refugees with residency permits has grown again, with councils needing to find an extra 27,300 beds in the second half of the year, on top of the 5,000 bed first half shortfall, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.

The shortage of housing means refugees are being forced to live in temporary accommodation for longer than the 14 weeks maximum and that fewer beds are available for new arrivals.

In total, some 15,500 people with residency permits are still living in official refugee accommodation, according to settlement agency figures.

Temporary housing, such as former cruise ships, is not a real solution to the problem for people with residency permits, experts told the broadcaster.

Refugees with residency permits who are living on ships and in army barracks have fewer rights than those who live in ordinary housing, because they cannot get help with finding work or access other local authority services.

They are given just €14 a week to buy essential supplies such as toiletries, and pay for public transport, while meals and language lessons are provided on site.

Since July, the Silja Europe, a former cruise ship that first housed refugees in Velsen, has been moored in Rotterdam. It now provides accommodation for 1,500 people with a residency permit to settle in the Netherlands.

“In effect, you are keeping people in agency accommodation for another year,” housing professor Peter Boelens told the broadcaster. “At least in a prefab home you have a bit of privacy. You don’t want to spend a year living on a cruise ship.”


Jolien Groot, a researcher attached to the Dutch environmental assessment agency PBL, said that temporary housing is not the the solution.

“Such mass accommodation on a boat in an industrial zone is not ideal if people are supposed to become part of society,” she said. “They need to be able to work or go to school and to connect with Dutch society.”

A smaller ship, the Ocean Majesty, which space for 300 new arrivals and refugees with residency rights, has been moored in Velsen since early August.

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