ROTTERDAM, 22 June 2023 – Amidst escalating pressure on Rotterdam's housing market, the Dutch government has teamed up with city officials to unveil an innovative solution for its residents. This initiative focuses on creating transitional housing for recognised refugees (statushouders in Dutch), subsidised by the government.
Innovative solution to housing crisis
Rotterdam's real estate market is under considerable strain. Limited availability of social housing and extended waiting periods have intensified the crisis. The housing demand from recognised refugees further fuels the stress on the housing sector. As a response, Rotterdam has reached an agreement with the government to establish a transitional location for these recognised refugees, the cost of which will be borne by the government.
The government's annual assignment for housing recognised refugees had been manageable for Rotterdam until it recently doubled. Meeting this increased assignment would strain the city's resources and impact vulnerable groups and new market entrants needing housing.
A call for alternative measures
"This situation calls for alternative solutions. As a result of our quest for alternative methods, we have reached certain agreements with the government. These agreements help to ease pressure on both the housing market in Rotterdam and the nationwide challenge in the asylum process," stated alderman Faouzi Achbar (Welfare, Community, Sport and Digital Inclusion).
Agreements with the government and South Holland Province
As of 1 July, a temporary transitional location in the form of a ferry will be stationed in Rotterdam's Merwehaven. The ferry will provide temporary accommodation to recognised refugees assigned to Rotterdam, as well as those assigned to other municipalities in the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region.
This step helps not just the local home seekers but also the government and, where possible, the regional municipalities. Each regional municipality will be asked to account for the number of recognised refugees assigned to them in the Rotterdam commitment to asylum seeker reception if the dispersion law comes into force. Additionally, an agreement with South Holland Province ensured no asylum seeker center would be built on Barendrecht's territory bordering the vulnerable Lombardijen district of Rotterdam in the coming years.
Adherence to the coalition agreement
The agreements in the coalition agreement concerning asylum seekers and recognised refugees' reception in Rotterdam will remain unchanged, and the city council will continue to adhere to them.
Transition location and its role
The recognised refugees will commence their integration process at the transition location. The ones living on the ferry are part of the housing assignment. In the face of the housing shortage, these individuals currently reside in Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) locations across the country. This provision contributes to the national asylum process's fluidity.
Funding for flexible housing
Rotterdam will receive government funding for the construction of extra flexible dwellings for local first-time buyers, urgent seekers, and recognised refugees. Additional funds will be allocated for converting vacant healthcare and office buildings into residential spaces in Rotterdam. These efforts, along with the transitional location, are designed to ease housing market pressure and balance various groups' accommodation needs. Meanwhile, Rotterdam continues to build permanent homes for its residents.
Getting to the transitional housing location
The transitional housing location is situated at Merwehaven in Rotterdam. It is a bustling commercial area with good connections to public transport. Surrounded by numerous shops and eateries, Merwehaven provides an urban setting for the residents.