Homeless in Amsterdam

by Tanja
Homeless in Amsterdam

Many people visiting Amsterdam are surprised to see there are not many homeless people in the streets. In many European countries, there are many homeless people in the streets. In The Netherlands, the social system should prevent people from becoming homeless, but still the amount of homeless in Holland are on the rise. Winters in Amsterdam are very cold. In the winter of 2018-2019, Amsterdam offers a shelter for all homeless when it gets really cold.

How many homeless people are there in Amsterdam?

According to the GGD, 500 to 1000 people are homeless in Amsterdam. (Total inhabitants are 800.000). Is this a lot? It’s difficult to tell because countries have different ways of counting their homeless. Besides that, it’s obviously rather difficult to count the homeless, as they are not registered. In Belgian Antwerp (510.000 inhabitants), they count 500 homeless.

Does the Dutch government give financial help to homeless people?

All people with Dutch residency who have no income nor property can get social welfare payment. (In Dutch ‘bijstandsuitkering’ or WWB). The basic payment (single, no kids, no income, no property) is € 679,75 per month. When you are homeless, the process to apply for social benefits is more complicated but doable.

Homeless in Amsterdam.

Where can homeless people in Amsterdam find shelter?

In the Netherlands, the city councils are responsible for homeless people in their own municipality. In Amsterdam, homeless people may report to the ‘Screeningsbalie Bijzondere Doelgroep’ to find help and shelter. There is also private shelter, like the Salvation Army (Leger des Heils). Most are free or cheap.

Shelters in Amsterdam only take in people who have been in the city for a longer period (3 months). If you have just arrived, you are supposed to arrange your own accommodation. In any case, expect a screening and a waiting list.

Where can homeless people in Amsterdam sleep in winter?

In winter, there is a special shelter for the homeless in Amsterdam. The shelter (‘winteropvang’) offers a place to sleep for maximum of 10 days, a bed, shower, hot meal, and breakfast.

The winter shelter in Amsterdam is open from 1 December till 1 April. The screening takes place at Desk ‘Bijzondere Doelgroepen’. Address: Jan van Galenstraat 323, entrance B. It’s open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday between 14.00 and 16.00.

I don’t have a Dutch residency, can I stay in a homeless shelter in Amsterdam?

Asylum seekers can apply for residency at IND. Amsterdam provides 2000 places for asylum seekers. In case the asylum request was denied, and they have nowhere to stay, they can go to the Office for Foreigners (Vreemdelingenloket) and apply for the Bed, Bath and Bread provision.

There is a map of private and publicly funded shelters in Amsterdam.

Where can women find shelter in Amsterdam?

For women (with or without papers) who have been a victim of domestic or sexual violence can find accommodation in a woman’s shelter.

Why are there not many homeless people in the streets in Amsterdam?

If you walk out of any train station in European cities like Madrid, Paris or London, the streets are filled with homeless people, beggers, junkies and alcoholics. In Amsterdam, you will hardly find any. The reason is a new policy that the 4 largest cities in The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag and Utrecht) and the Dutch government implemented in 2006 to get homeless people off the streets.

In the first phase of the project, from 2006 – 2010, over 10.000 people who were living in the streets were offered personal assistance in finding medical care, tackle addictions and treat psychological problems. All those who took the offer, got free accommodation. Over 5.500 people found a more stable lifestyle with an income and a roof over their heads.

Screaming homeless with heavy psychiatric disorders
The results were noticeable. In October 2008, the streets of the 4 large cities had lost 6.500 homeless people. Classic urban sights such as drug users, screaming homeless with heavy psychiatric disorders, beggars, petty thieves, homeless prostitutes, all once a common sight in Amsterdam, had more or less disappeared from the Amsterdam view. The project cost €175 million. It was calculated each invested euro saved 2-3 euros.

So there are no more homeless people in Amsterdam?

There are still many homeless people in Amsterdam and their numbers are growing again. From 2009 until 2019, the amount of homeless people in The Netherlands rose from 18.000 until 40.000. In Amsterdam, there are 500 to 1000 homeless people.

How many young people are homeless in The Netherlands?

In 2016 until 2018 there were 315 young people homeless (between 18 and 23 years old) in Amsterdam. Youngsters under the age of 18 you will not likely find sleeping in the streets of Amsterdam because they will be taken into the care of Bureau Jeugdzorg.

Are you allowed to sleep in the streets in Amsterdam?

No, it’s not allowed to sleep outside in Amsterdam (nor in your car). If you sleep on a park bench, the police can arrest you. You will be spending the night in jail. It’s not likely the police will actually arrest you unless you cause a disturbance.

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Leave a Comment


Robin May 16, 2018 - 10:25

Hej Marianne!
Jag såg din kommentar och undrar om du har fått tag i din son? Jag har en del kontakt med hemlösa i Amsterdam och kan fråga runt om det fortfarande behövs. Mvh Robin

Marianne Petersen November 4, 2017 - 17:33

Jeg har en søn der sikkert befinder sig i misbrugs miljøet, jeg kan ikke få kontakt til ham, han kommer fra Danmark. Er der nogen der ved hvordan, man finder nogle i det miljø. Jeg er meget bekymret for ham hans mor

Roberto October 12, 2017 - 20:22

Hi,I have a friend that is from Romania is a bit handicap and live for 7 years in Amsterdam with some friends,before one year they put him out .
He start to take bijstanduitkering and live at Red Cross house,
but because his not apply to some letters he go to court and they ask back the money and also unregistered for the city and put him out for the shelter.
That is really crazy,the guy is Hive and really sick and now live in the street..
If someone can help with everything or to give Advice to what have to do I will be grateful..

Mar June 25, 2017 - 07:20

Is not true that the government helps every citizen who is homeless. This help does not apply for entrepreneurs who due to crisis have lost their homes.
Im an entrepreneur, im still trying to keep my little business running because I need to survive, I also work part time in a restaurant but I cant afford to rent a room a place, if I ask the government for help I always get the same answer, there is no help for people who holds a business registered at the Kvk (Chamber of Commerce), so basically they only help people with no house with no job etc..in this country if you want to fight to progress, not to be a burden all the way for the government, you get absolutely no support.

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