Rotterdam tackles homelessness with innovative approach

Rotterdam tackles homelessness with innovative approach

ROTTERDAM, 6 March 2024 – A distinctive initiative has been launched by the city of Rotterdam to confront the growing issue of homelessness and associated public nuisance. The city has observed a rise in the presence of homeless individuals in public spaces, leading to an unorthodox approach to mitigate the situation.

Unconventional strategy against homelessness

The city administration has committed to addressing the escalated nuisance caused by homeless individuals. Residents have reported finding homeless individuals sleeping in entryways, witnessing drug use in public, and other disruptive behaviours. To counter this, Rotterdam has opened a shelter intended for homeless individuals who do not qualify for traditional support services. This facility will operate on a voluntary basis, yet with mandatory participation in its programs.

Alderman Ronald Buijt, responsible for Health, Senior Citizens, and Youth Care, expressed his concerns over the reports from citizens in the Oude Westen neighborhood and around Mauritsweg. “The images I've been shown of the nuisance caused by homeless individuals are appalling. We intend to assist these individuals in getting their lives back on track, which includes overcoming addiction and seeking employment. Those who continue to cause trouble will face repatriation,” he stated.

Additional shelter

The temporary shelter will accommodate 60 non-eligible homeless EU migrants, offering stays ranging from six to eight weeks. The shelter operates round-the-clock, providing opportunities for detoxification and job search assistance. It also aims to address exploitation by unscrupulous employment agencies, which has led to homelessness among some EU labor migrants. The initiative includes the possibility of aiding with repatriation. Persistent troublemakers will be subjected to a formal process that could lead to their expulsion. Enhanced surveillance by police and municipal enforcers will focus on known offenders.

Responsibility and collaboration

Healthcare institutions housing homeless individuals or those with mental health issues or addictions will be held accountable for any local disturbances. The “action plan for outdoor sleepers” (actieplan buitenslapers) involves collaboration with various city and national partners, including the police, public prosecution service, immigration services, national railway company, and anti-immigration team, alongside healthcare organizations. The plan, set to run for a year, aims to reduce street nuisance and curb the influx of new homeless individuals.

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