Country report on access to services – the Netherlands

This report looks at post-2014 migrants’ access to housing, employment, and other relevant resources in different small and medium-sized towns and rural areas in the Netherlands.

Primarily based on interviews conducted in six selected municipalities, it provides an overview of:
1) the concrete barriers that post-2014 migrants are facing in relation to housing and employment;
2) the local actors who are involved in, and/or seen as responsible for, facilitating their access;
3) any concrete local measures or practices that help or hinder this access;
4) the specific target groups of these measures, initiatives or practices.

The report finds that in the Netherlands, access to housing for recognized refugees who arrived after 2014 is highly specific because municipalities have the legal obligation to provide housing for them. The process of finding housing is severely impacted by the accumulation of two ‘crises’ as the Netherlands is currently experiencing a ‘housing crisis’ and a ‘reception crisis’. While the former has led to a shortage of social housing, the latter has increased the pressure on municipalities to find housing as fast as possible. Moreover, the settlement of post-2014 refugees in the localities has at times led to tensions between long-term residents and newcomers in neighborhoods with a higher concentration of social housing.

Access to employment is influenced by factors at the individual, macro-economic, policy and governance, and societal level. At the individual level, factors such as educational background, ethnicity, age, gender, and mental health influence a person’s chances of finding employment in various, intersecting ways. At the macro-economic level, employers’ willingness and openness to hire refugees, the ‘voluntary work trap’ as well as precarious working conditions play another role in determining a person’s economic mobility. At the policy and governance level, refugees are often channeled into the low-skilled sector of the labor market because work is prioritized over education under the national Participation Act. Lastly, at the societal level, discrimination against refugees has a negative influence on people’s chances to find long-term, sustainable employment.

Overall, we found that legal status is a defining factor in determining access to housing, employment and other services, creating a stratified system where rights and resources are allocated differently to different groups of people.

Authors: Elina Jonitz, Maria Schiller, Peter Scholten
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