families inadequately protected in the event of eviction

NOS

NOS News

  • Leonie Schenk

    Design editor

  • Leonie Schenk

    Design editor

Families who are evicted, e.g. due to rent arrears, nuisance or (drug) crime, are left to fend for themselves. This is what the National Ombudsman and the Children’s Ombudsman conclude in a joint report.

These families often have to look for another home with too little help. And housing is hard to find. Governments are pointing fingers at each other, says the report published today.

‘The government does not comply with the duty of care’

“We see families who are at risk of becoming homeless because they have to find housing themselves,” says national ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen. “The problem with the creditor is dealt with by an eviction, but not the family’s often sad situation. Even if there is help from municipalities, the families often end up in all kinds of temporary housing solutions for a long time.”

According to Van Zutphen, these families experience a lot of stress. “The government is insufficiently aware of this and is therefore not fulfilling its duty of care. It is the government’s responsibility to provide suitable housing where families can live together.”

Costs rose sharply

Marc Räkers from the Euroaf Foundation also confirms this! He has worked with vulnerable families for thirty years. Although the number of evictions has fallen sharply in the thirty years, he says, governments are not doing enough to prevent vulnerable families from becoming homeless.

In Amsterdam-West alone, the foundation employs nineteen people who visit vulnerable families. The reports have gone from 400 to 600 monthly. “This is partly due to high costs and energy poverty.”

According to Räkers, the social infrastructure must be improved. “We are in favor of a ban on evictions. Municipalities should put people under some kind of social guardianship. We forget how much more it costs to get families and especially children who lose their social infrastructure back on track. The pressure on social organizations and youth care is, among other things, high because of this.”

Van Zutphen says he is not arguing for a ban on eviction, but for better policies and laws to better accommodate families in such situations and, above all, to offer a future perspective.

‘Children in eviction are invisible’

Because children are affected by evictions, the Children’s Ombudsman also carried out an investigation. According to Children’s Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer, children are invisible when eviction occurs. “Children are never spoken to, they are not supported and they are not prepared for what the future may bring.”

According to Kalverboer, eviction has enormous significance for children in particular. “We know how important it is for children to grow up in a stable and safe environment, so they must be extra well protected.”

What should the ombudsmen say that needs to be done?

The children’s ombudsman and the national ombudsman call on minister Hugo de Jonge for housing and spatial planning to take extra steps. According to the ombudsmen, human rights and children’s rights obligations are hardly anchored in (local) rules and politics.

  • Based on a human and child rights test, new policy and legislation must be introduced where the social impact is central.
  • Obligation for municipalities to provide decent alternative housing.
  • There must be a policy for municipalities and housing associations that prescribes how to correctly involve parents and children and inform them about eviction.
  • Collect and monitor reliable data on evictions and map where families go when they leave their homes involuntarily.

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