Growing numbers of labour migrants from Poland and other countries are ending up living on the streets when their work dries up, homeless charities have said.
Stichting Barka, which works with vulnerable migrants in 16 municipalities, said it helped 5,000 people in 2022, of whom 3,000 were registered homeless.
The Regenboog Groep in Amsterdam said it was aware of 1,900 homeless EU citizens living in the capital. “And many more are not on our radar,” a spokesman told the Telegraaf.
The numbers have been increasing since the coronavirus pandemic, when many labour migrants were unable to work but had no right to unemployment cover, which is only available to people who can show a five-year work history.
The problem is compounded by the fact that many Poles arrived in the Netherlands before 2020 on “package deals”, where their employer arranged their accommodation – with the result that they lost their home as well as their job.
“Their house is often attached to their work and there is next to no social safety net,” said Merlijn Hijzen of the Haagse Soepbus, which hands out free food and drink to a group of around 50 homeless migrants in The Hague.
Tent near Madurodam
Norbert Jach, who came to the Netherlands from Poland to work as a decorator, said he could afford a house large enough to accommodate for his wife, two children and his mother when he first lived in The Hague. Now he lives in a tent near the Madurodam miniature theme park.
“I got ill, struggled with alcohol addiction and lost everything,” he told the Telegraaf.
But many Polish migrants are reluctant to leave because inflation in their home country was even higher last year than in the Netherlands, making it an unaffordable option.
“The upward trend has set in since the coronavirus pandemic, when a lot of labour migrants needed help,” said Barka spokesman Daria Ceplin. “Fortunately we are able to help a considerable group, whether it’s finding a new job in the Netherlands or bringing them back to their homeland.”
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