The senate, or upper house of parliament, will on Monday start two days of debate on legislation to ensure refugee accommodation is more evenly spread nationwide, and which is opposed by the four parties in talks on forming a new government.
The controversial “spreading law” will require all local authorities to provide some form of refugee accommodation, based on their size and the financial situation of their populations.
Currently, a large number of councils are not providing any help and a handful, such as Westerwolde in Groningen and Dronten in Flevoland, are no longer able to cope with the volume of people.
Town and city councils in Noord Holland and Utrecht provinces are performing particularly poorly in providing housing, with 48% and 50% of councils respectively failing to do so, according to research by RTV Noord.
The legislation was drawn up by VVD asylum minister Eric van der Burg who has been trying to get it passed for two years. Party leader and justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz is opposed to the measure.
The lower house of parliament narrowly voted in favour of the plan when it was debated last year, but since the general election there has been no majority in favour. The local authorities association, refugee groups and the children’s ombudsman have all urged the senate to back the plan.
Currently 64,000 asylum seekers have the right to state-provided accommodation but some 16,000 of them should have moved out of refugee housing because they have residency permits. However, the housing crisis has left them living in limbo – and taking up beds meant for new arrivals.
The Netherlands currently has 94 regular refugee centres with 33,000 beds and 230 emergency centres, often in tents or sports halls, with some 30,000 beds.
Parties opposing the measure account for 37 of the 75 senate seats, or one short of a majority. Supporters have 36 seats and two senators (50Plus and a regional party representative) have not yet declared how they will vote.
Voting will take place next week.
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