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


Jenny February 18, 2017 - 15:04

Doable to get welfare if you’re homeless? Chexk your facts !

Dimitrios December 14, 2016 - 12:35

Hello. My name is Jim. I am Greek and i live in the Netherlands the last 5 months. I used to work at a Greek restaurant in Limburg but he through me out of the job and from the room he used to give me. Now i stay at a acquainted’s house in Middelburg, but i can’t stay here anymore. I’ll be homeless from the next week for my first time in my live. I try to find a job but i need a place to stay for a sort period. If you can help me please contact me by email (dimitris.mirgiotis@outlook.com) or by phone (0682601644) immediately.
Your sincerely D. Myrgiotis (Jim)
Thank you !

Gen miller September 29, 2015 - 23:08

Leidseplein is full of the homeless and scavengers as well as beer nickers and snake oil salesman masquerading as amulet spiritual merchants all hungry to feed their drug habits

Tonjn July 27, 2015 - 13:39

Tonjn July 27

I will like to have feedkack urgently because the facilities at Valeriusplein 9 are closed. If someone is in need where this facilities are relocated. And the phone number is the same? 020 – 488 1151 between 10:00 – 11 uur and 18:30-19-30 uur to reserve a bed?
Thanks for the information.

Tanja July 27, 2015 - 18:11

These facilities are only open in wintertime.

Matthew McGurn January 20, 2015 - 18:11

In thi article yyu havent stated exactly where the shelters can be found.

Adresses and contact numbers etc.

You have highlighted some red tape but have left out the most vital information. WHERE IS THE SHELTER ?
How do we contact them?

Tanja January 21, 2015 - 14:15

Winter of 2014/2015 (til 1 March 2015) call 020 – 488 1151 between 10.00–11.00 uur and 18.30–19.30 uur to reserve a bed. Expect to be asked questions about your ‘need’ for a bed. The shelter is at Valeriuskliniek,
Valeriusplein 9. Just East of Vondelpark.

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