Municipalities suddenly have to arrange fewer houses for status holders this six months. But they still say they face a major challenge. Many municipalities already had a backlog, and next year they will have to look for many homes (again).
A lot is asked of municipalities, among others, Deputy State Secretary Christophe van der Maat (Justice and Security) acknowledged in a letter to the House of Representatives on November 10. At the same time, he offered some relief for the municipalities: they do not have to link a total of 27,600, but 17,600 status holders to a house in the second half of this year. This is partly because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has issued fewer residence permits than expected.
Due to this reduction, some municipalities suddenly had already completed their tasks for this six months. For example, the municipality of Eindhoven, which says it will continue to place status holders. This means that the city will have to look for slightly fewer houses in the first half of 2024.
Because at the beginning of 2024, municipalities will once again be faced with a major challenge: they will then have to jointly place another 18,750 status holders. Some of this year’s delayed permits will probably also be postponed to next year. Other municipalities also point to next year. “A reduction in one year followed by an increase in the next is no relief,” says a spokesperson for the municipality of Midden-Groningen.
Wat zijn statushouders?
Statushouders zijn mensen die asiel hebben gekregen. Gemeenten zoeken een huis voor deze mensen, zodat ze kunnen beginnen met het deelnemen aan de Nederlandse maatschappij. Statushouders hebben niet automatisch voorrang op een sociale huurwoning. Gemeenten krijgen wel elk half jaar een opdracht om een specifiek aantal statushouders aan een huis te koppelen.
Op dit moment zitten veel statushouders in asielzoekerscentra omdat er nog geen huis gevonden is. Het gaat om zo’n zestienduizend mensen, die een kwart van alle beschikbare plekken in azc’s bezet houden.
Municipalities still have to clear many backlogs
Despite the reductions, other municipalities are still struggling with this year’s target. There is a general shortage of housing and in addition, status holders cannot simply live in every vacant house.
In the municipality of Maastricht, the search for those large houses in particular caused a “bottleneck” this year, the spokesperson said. “These large homes are hardly available within the available regular supply.”
In the municipality of Nijkerk they see a lot of demand for homes for singles. “As a result, you need many more homes than if it were mainly for families. In addition, small cheap homes are scarce.”
At the beginning of July, the municipalities also had a backlog of a total of five thousand status holders from the first half of this year. These people also had to find a house this six months. The municipality of Groningen says it can now catch up. The municipality of Maastricht is now also busy catching up, but says that “the task is still large”.
It is also a problem for other attention groups
The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) supports the call from the ministry to fully focus on housing status holders. At the same time, this demands “an enormous amount” from municipalities, the association wrote in a letter to members.
“Municipalities are being asked to accommodate many different attention groups (including status holders). This total group is growing, and less and less social housing is becoming available.”
The municipalities also recognize this. Hoeksche Waard says it will not achieve the target, partly because of “the broad demand for housing by different target groups”. “And in addition to the increase in demand from other attention groups, there is great pressure on the social rental stock,” says a spokesperson for the municipality of Nijkerk. “And you also want to offer regular home seekers an opportunity.”
Flex housing and hotels
Nevertheless, the “housing pace must increase”, Van der Maat wrote last week. The asylum seeker centers will then be relieved and status holders can start integrating. “Continued efforts are needed to increase the housing stock and make better use of the housing stock.”
In many municipalities this is done with the help of flexible housing. For example, the municipality of Leeuwarden is building 192 flexible homes, some of which will go to status holders. As a result, the municipality expects to have achieved this year’s target within the first three months of next year at the latest. The municipality of Oldenzaal uses the Hotel and Accommodation Scheme (HAR) specially created by the government. This allows status holders to live temporarily in a hotel.
Rotterdam is also already receiving status holders while they wait for a house in the municipality. This happens at the so-called flow location on cruise ship Silja Europa. The city also uses flexible housing and old office buildings are being renovated.
“With the creative solution of the flow-through location, we can temporarily house people,” says a spokesperson. But ultimately these people also have to move on, which partly shifts the pressure. “We also face a major challenge in 2024.”