Rotterdam to refuse poor migrants
1 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Rotterdam City Council hopes to prevent underprivileged migrants from moving to the port city by refusing housing to anyone who does not earn at least 20 percent above the minimum income level. Rotterdam also plans to seek a temporary exemption from accepting asylum seeker residents.
Rotterdam is concerned it will become the receptacle for the nation’s underprivileged and the executive council unveiled on Monday a plan of action designed to improve the city’s social climate, NOS reported.
The term underprivileged is often used to describe poor migrants and research has indicated that almost half of all immigrants in Rotterdam originate from other municipalities. The Rotterdam Council asserts that these people are often not integrated and strongly require government support.
Therefore, the council also intends to prevent jobless people from moving to Rotterdam and make it more difficult for residents to bring to the city a migrant partner from their land of origin. The action plan aims to create a better spread of migrants across Rotterdam.
“The reason is that we want to bring old neighbourhoods in the city back into balance. Colour is not important. This is to do with neighbourhoods in balance and a city in balance,” Mayor Ivo Opstelten said.”
The harbour city has long debated the continuing influx of immigrants and a better spread of underprivileged immigrants is a key component of the council’s battle against the rise of “problem” neighbourhoods.
An Intomart survey in August found that 62 percent of residents supported restricting the number of immigrants allowed to live in the city, while 25 percent were opposed. That survey came after research bureau COS predicted the proportion of immigrants would grow to 58 percent of Rotterdam’s total population by 2017, compared with 46 percent last year.
The latest plans — called Rotterdam zet door: ‘Op weg naar een stad in balans’ (Rotterdam Perseveres: “On the road to a city in balance”) — aim to force public housing corporations ensure more low-income earners are housed in “better” neighbourhoods.
And in problem areas with a large supply of cheap housing, preference will be given to high-income earners looking for a house rather than low-incomer earners. Tight agreements will be made with housing corporations.
Problem renters will be more quickly evicted and Rotterdam also wants the power to expropriate premises where illegal immigrants live, but those who end up on the street — such as drug addicts — will be given emergency shelter.
Rotterdam will also ask the Dutch State to exempt the city region from accepting asylum seekers with residence permits for the next for years, freeing up 400 houses in the city and surrounding suburbs. These houses will be offered to people who are having trouble finding accommodation.
The executive council’s action plan is critical of the fact that there is no national legislation surrounding the issue. Rotterdam claims such legislation is necessary to create a better spread of migrants across the country and it will work in closely with the national government to develop its action plan.
Rotterdam claims the borderline of the city’s ability to absorb the underprivileged has been reached and in some places has already been breached. It is thus considering an “adult migration policy” to restrict the arrival of underprivileged and the departure of wealthier residents from city suburbs. The tighter policy regarding settling in Rotterdam is also aimed at limiting the city’s problems.
Detailed plans will be drawn out per neighbourhood in the Spring of 2004 and will start with the suburb of Tarweijk, Dutch associated press ANP reported.
The Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD and populist Liveable Rotterdam LR executive council — made up of the city mayor and aldermen and women — hopes to legalise the refusal of underprivileged people from the city via an emergency law regarding problem neighbourhoods. The matter will come before the Lower House of Parliament.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news