Homelessness in the Netherlands has more than doubled since 2009

Homelessness in the Netherlands has more than doubled since 2009

Shocking figures were published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) this Friday, August 23. The total number of homeless people aged 18 to 65 in the Netherlands has increased from 17.800, the estimation in 2009, to 39.300 in 2018.

Shocking number of people homeless

What’s more, during the period mentioned, the number of homeless people aged 18 to 30 tripled, as did the number with a non-western migration background. In 2018, there were 12.600 homeless people aged between 18 and 30 and 18.300 with a non-western migration background.

The largest group in terms of age amongst the homeless were the 30 to 50 year-olds, accounting for 19.200 people, about half of all the homeless. The majority of homeless people were also male - a whopping 84 percent - and of the 39.300, more than 37 percent were concentrated in the four largest municipalities, namely Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

In these municipalities, half of the homeless people with a non-western migration background can be found. This is a pretty big share considering that less than a quarter of the homeless with a Dutch background are located there and only a third of the homeless with a western migration background.

Who is considered homeless?

These figures include people who are sleeping in the open air, in sheltered public spaces (porches, bike parks, stations, shopping centres or cars), shelters from social services or those who do not have a permanent residence and are temporarily staying with friends or acquaintances. Those who do not have a residence permit and are in the Netherlands illegally are not included in these homelessness figures.

Dutch government responds shocked

The State Secretary for Health Paul Blokhuis is shocked by the figures, responding, “We should be ashamed that a rich country like ours fails to put a decent roof over everyone’s head.” As Blokhuis points out, one of the major problems fuelling the upsurge in homelessness is the housing market. Affordable rentals are practically nonexistent unless you’ve been on a waiting list for years or have an urgent case.

According to the Salvation Army, which runs the shelters, people who have been to prison are more likely to end up on the streets due to the shortage of affordable homes. The organisation also adds that there is a shortage of temporary shelter spaces and fewer institutions where people with issues can live under supervision.

In various municipalities, programmes have been set up to offer homeless people a place. The four biggest municipalities especially are putting in a great deal of effort to arrange accommodation, as they have the largest homeless populations. A programme targeting young people in particular has also been set up.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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Abhishek Ghosh 12:04 | 25 August 2019

I had a Dutch neighbour, born in Rotterdam, who was homeless for quite some time. He would gamble away the social benefit money on online casinos or use it to buy drugs.