Cabinet continues to struggle with asylum reception, hopes set on new ‘coercive law’

The cabinet continues to struggle with the reception of asylum seekers and status holders. In a letter to the House of Representatives there are a few options to encourage municipalities to do more, but the cabinet is mainly waiting for a law that is in the making to force unwilling municipalities.

For months, there has been a structural shortage of shelters. Almost daily reports appear that the application center in Ter Apel – where every new asylum seeker has to report – is too full. This means that people have to sleep in the waiting area, or are transferred at the very last minute to an often temporary shelter.

Private real estate

State Secretary Van der Burg of Justice has been trying for months to persuade municipalities to make more places available to promote the flow, but that is only happening somewhat. Pending a law that can force municipalities to receive asylum seekers, the cabinet now wants to use its own real estate as a reception location, even if the municipality where the building is located does not want it.

This concerns, for example, old office buildings or vacant asylum seekers centers in places that, according to the cabinet, are now doing too little. The cabinet has about twelve buildings in mind, but does not want to say which, because there is still hope that coercion is unnecessary.

โ€œThe preferred route is still the conversation with the municipality,โ€ said Minister De Jonge for Housing, who deals with the buildings. โ€œThere are conversations, but sometimes they are difficult.โ€

An important reason that the asylum seekers centers in the country are too crowded is that the people who have already received a residence permit, status holders, have nowhere to go. About a third of the azc residents do not belong there and should be given a ‘normal’ home. The municipalities also have to take care of that.

The cabinet wants the municipalities to allocate more homes to status holders in order to improve the flow. The fact that the Netherlands has a housing shortage is no secret, but according to De Jonge, municipalities can do something. โ€œStatus holders must be housed in vacant rental homes. Every week, houses are released and municipalities themselves make a trade-off for placement.โ€

Sharpen and accelerate

Specifically, the cabinet is not going to force municipalities more than it does now, but provinces must be closer to it. Van der Burg and De Jonge write that they request provinces โ€œto tighten and accelerate inter-administrative supervision of the housing of permit holders for municipalities with disadvantagedโ€.

And if that proves fruitless, De Jonge also has a view for government property status holders. Here, too, these are about twelve buildings that can be used for housing.

Detours to force

Incidentally, the cabinet is currently not ready to use its own buildings. โ€œBut it can be done in a few days,โ€ says De Jonge. Secretary of State Van der Burg says it will certainly happen in the coming weeks. โ€œIn the coming weeks and months, we want to prevent people from sleeping on the street.โ€

With these measures, the cabinet seems to have to do it in the near future, acknowledges Van der Burg. He himself speaks of โ€œdetours to be able to force anywayโ€. It still takes a while until the desired coercive law’ is in place; at the earliest, it will be in force at the end of this year.