Additional 10,000 housing facilities for the homeless
Working with municipalities, housing associations and other parties involved, the Dutch government aims to provide 10,000 additional housing facilities – with the necessary support – for the homeless by 1 January 2022 at the latest. This is one of the key objectives of the broad approach to homelessness adopted by State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport Paul Blokhuis, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Kajsa Ollongren and State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment Tamara van Ark.
This approach focuses on preventing homelessness, renewing shelter provision and organising the quickest possible transfer to independent supported accommodation. It had already been announced that €200 million is available for the support the homeless.
State Secretary Paul Blokhuis: "The number of homeless people in the Netherlands is at an unacceptably high level. We are short of accommodation and support for this group, as the coronavirus crisis has once again made painfully clear. With these 10,000 additional housing facilities and €200 million for support, we are on the way to finding a real solution for this vulnerable group. This approach must ensure a breakthrough in a system that is far too rigid. In the longer term, too, a change must take place, for which the starting point is not shelter but housing, with the required support. Only when there really is no other option should people stay in a shelter, but never for longer than three months. I am very pleased with the very wide-ranging support for this new and ambitious approach. We have to join forces with municipalities, housing associations, providers, client organisations and other parties involved to make this happen."
Transforming shelter provision
At the same time as organising more supported accommodation for the homeless, the government wants to focus on renewing the provision of shelters. In concrete terms, this means, for example, converting large dormitories into single and double rooms and eventually reducing the number of places in shelters. That reduction will be possible only when the transfer from shelters to sufficient housing facilities is progressing well. In addition, shelters must also focus on providing tailored support, daytime activities and deploying experienced expertise.
The prevention of homelessness also plays an essential role in this plan. For example, the government wants to further reduce the number of evictions due to debt. Municipalities are also being encouraged to make arrangements with housing associations to ensure that sufficient housing facilities are available for people leaving prison, a mental health institution or a care home for young people, for example.