Families evicted, for example because of rent arrears, nuisance, or crime (drugs), are left to fend for themselves. This is the conclusion of the National Ombudsman and the Children’s Ombudsman in a joint report.
These families often have to look for another home with very little help. It is difficult to find homes. The report, published today, says governments are pointing fingers at each other.
‘The government is not upholding its duty of care’
“We see families who are at risk of homelessness because they have to find housing on their own,” says National Ombudsman Reiner van Zutphen. “The creditor problem is addressed in the eviction process, but not so often the sad situation of the family. If the help comes from municipalities, 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 not sufficiently aware of this and is therefore not fulfilling its duty of care. The government is responsible for providing adequate housing where families can stay together.”
Costs have risen sharply
Mark Rackers of Eropaf! He has been working with vulnerable families for thirty years. Although the number of evictions has dropped sharply in those 30 years, he says, governments aren’t doing enough to prevent vulnerable families from becoming homeless.
In Amsterdam West alone, the institution employs nineteen people who visit vulnerable families. Reports went from 400 to 600 per month. This is partly due to high costs and energy poverty. “
According to Rackers, the social infrastructure must be improved. “We are calling for a moratorium on evictions. Municipalities should put people under some kind of social guardianship. Forget the high cost of getting families and especially children who have lost their social infrastructure back on track. The pressure on social organizations and youth welfare is high because of this “.
Van Zutphen says he’s not calling for a ban on evictions, but for better policy and laws to better accommodate families in such situations and, above all, to offer perspective for the future.
‘Children in evacuations are not visible’
Because children were affected by the evictions, the Children’s Ombudsman also conducted an investigation. According to Margaret Calverbourg, Children’s Ombudsman, children are not visible during evictions. “Children are never spoken to, they are unsupported and unprepared for what the future may hold.”
According to Calverbourg, evictions take a heavy toll on children in particular. “We know how important it is for children to grow up in a stable and safe environment, so they should be well protected.”
What should ombudspersons say they should do?
The Children’s Ombudsman and National Ombudsman are calling on Minister Hugo de Jonge for Housing and Spatial Planning to take additional steps. According to ombudspersons, human rights and child rights obligations are rarely well-established in (local) regulations and policies.
- Based on the examination of human and children’s rights, new policy and legislation must be introduced in which the social impact is central.
- Requiring municipalities to provide adequate alternative housing.
- Municipalities and housing companies should have a policy on how to properly involve parents and children and inform them of evictions.
- Collect and monitor reliable data on evictions, and map where families go when they forcibly leave their homes.