Amsterdam: "No room for refugees"

Due to the housing shortage, Amsterdam is falling behind on placing refugees in homes. The municipality now wants to limit the flow of asylum seekers to the city from next year, De Volkskrant reports. 

SP alderman Laurens Ivens says that the housing of asylum seekers across municipalities in The Netherlands should take into account the actual availability of space. The ruling now merely looks at population size.

This year, Amsterdam still has to house 695 refugees. In 2014 alone, 5,500 council houses have become available, which is meant not only for asylum seekers but also for people who apply for this type of housing based on income. The thousands of house seekers who get precedence due to social or medical reason, and the 850 forced to move due to city planning. For these reasons, Ivens says that there are very few homes left for those who apply and are placed on the waiting list for years at a time.

Across The Netherlands, municipalities still have to house around 10,000 refugees, and other municipalities are falling behind as well. De Volkskrant writes that there is simply no more space at asylum centers.

Ivens tells the paper that the municipality of Amsterdam is working hard to ensure that housing becomes more available by, for example, making the sharing law more flexible. The city is also building thousands of new homes in the coming years.

"With all these efforts, the housing market remains cramped. I cannot justify it for other urgent house-seekers when refugees do get a house", Ivens says. For this reason, the municipality of Amsterdam will discuss with other municipalities to see whether they have any remaining space to alleviate the shortage.

Municipalities such as Rotterdam and Delfzijl, as well as Den Helder, do not see the possibility of their having to alleviate the burden, as it will create more pressure within their own cities. Mayor René Verhulst of Goes is open to the idea, but only if the housed refugees will immediately seek work. Sittard-Geleen is equally supportive, but only if the municipality receives an adequate expense allowance for this.