update/met videoIn the middle of the summer, the cabinet will ask municipalities to arrange 7,500 temporary homes for asylum seekers who already have a residence permit. More than 5,600 new emergency shelters must also be created, 225 in every security region in our country.
Hanneke Keultjes, Jan Hoedeman
24 jun. 2022
With this, the cabinet wants to tackle the asylum crisis, although it is by no means certain whether the municipalities will be able to realize the requested places. According to chairman Hubert Bruls of the Security Council, mayor of Nijmegen, the agreements made are ‘fragile’.
“We know very well that we ask a lot from municipalities,” admits State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum, VVD). “Municipalities say: we are going to do our best, but don’t hold on to the results.”
The application center in Ter Apel and asylum seekers centers (AZC) have been overcrowded for some time. Almost 15,000 people now live in the asylum seekers’ centres, who are already allowed to stay in the Netherlands, but who cannot move on to a house due to the shortage on the housing market. Now they have to find a temporary place on a cruise ship, in a hotel, at a holiday park or in vacant office buildings that belong to the government or private individuals.
To help the municipalities to realize these places, the cabinet has promised extra money – 40 million euros – and extra people. About 750 civil servants who normally work at a ministry, for example, will therefore temporarily work in a municipality.
Municipalities are also already ‘on their gums’ because of the reception of Ukrainian refugees, says Van der Burg. “It will be extremely difficult to achieve this in the summer period. But that does not alter the fact that we cannot say: then we let people sleep outside.”
Whether the cabinet can deliver the promised thirty civil servants per region is still open to question. Civil servants can register voluntarily from Monday. If too few civil servants come forward, the cabinet will ‘look further’. Mayors demand that the cabinet fulfill all commitments, otherwise they will stop their efforts.
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To solve the shortage for asylum seekers with a residence permit, the cabinet sees the faster construction of temporary prefab houses as a solution. 7,500 of these flex homes, which will remain in place for a maximum of fifteen years, should be finished before the end of this year. This does not exclude coercion in any unwilling municipalities.
“The law contains possibilities for perseverance,” said Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Housing, CDA). “It could well be that they are used if municipalities did not want to.” He emphasizes that the homes are not exclusively intended for status holders, but also for other people who are urgently looking for a home.
According to De Jonge, if all goes well, such flex houses can be set up within a few months at the earliest. It is ambitious that 7,500 should be built within six months, the minister acknowledges. “The toughness of things is great. The procedures require people and they are not always available. And we ask this while it’s just about the summer holidays. I can’t promise it will be in a few months.”
De Jonge expects to be able to accommodate 7,500 status holders in 2,500 of such flexible homes. He assumes a family size of three people. But the average refugee family is often larger, according to the Council for Refugees. “I don’t know at the moment whether it fits one to one,” says De Jonge. “But there is a shortage of social housing, flex is the fastest solution. It’s the best we can do right now.”
The cabinet labeled the stalled asylum reception last week as a national crisis† On Monday, after consultation with municipalities, it wanted to come up with an action plan. But the municipalities were dissatisfied about the cabinet proposal and asked for more help and a long-term perspective† Finally, after a second consultation yesterday, an agreement was reached.
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