Netherlands to create 10,000 more shelter spaces and homes for homeless

The Dutch government is teaming up with municipalities, housing associations and other involved parties to create 10 thousand extra living and shelter spaces for homeless people by 2022. A new approach to reducing the number of homeless people in the country also focuses on renewing social care and more support for homeless people in their new lives. The government already promised 200 million euros for this support.

"The number of homeless people in the Netherlands is unacceptably high. We are short of places to live and guidance for this group, the coronavirus again made that painfully clear. With these 10 thousand extra places and 200 million euros for guidance we are off to a good start with a real solution for this vulnerable group of people," State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health, Welfare and Sports said.

He is working with Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and State Secretary Tamara van Ark of Social Affairs and Employment on this approach, which "must be a break through in a system that is stuck," he said. The long term goal is a turnaround in which "housing with the necessary guidance is the starting point, not shelter." People will only be placed in shelters if there is no other option, and then for no longer than three months, he said. 

At the same time, the government is working on renewing social care. In concrete terms, this means converting large dormitories into single and double rooms, and eventually reducing the number of shelters as more homes become available. More attention will also go into tailor-made guidance for homeless people, daytime activities, and the use of experience. 

Preventing homelessness is also an important part of this approach. The government will work on reducing the number of evictions due to debts. Municipalities are also being encouraged to make agreements with housing corporations so that there are enough living spaces for people released from detention, or discharged from a mental healthcare facility or youth care. 

According to Blokhuis, there is "very broad support" for this "new and ambitious approach". "We must achieve this together with municipalities, housing corporations, providers, client organizations and other parties involved."