More and more large-scale housing complexes for migrant workers are popping up across the Netherlands, according to the Flex Living expert center and the Federation of Dutch Municipalities (VNG). Although it is a solution for employers to accommodate their temporary employees, it also faces resistance from local residents.
Employment agencies and companies plan to set up residential pensions in Nieuwegen (368 migrant workers), Roosendaal (300) and Lembede (400). “We see demand for residential complexes in almost all parts of the Netherlands,” says a VNG spokesperson. His organization is increasingly receiving questions from municipalities about large-scale housing.
According to Wim Reddick of the Flexible Living Expertise Centre, there has been a significant shortage of adequate housing for this target group for years. He describes the senior housing as an excellent solution for employees who come here temporarily. “We desperately need migrant workers in large parts of the economy.”
Reedijk comments on this new development. According to him, residential barracks often face resistance from local residents, such as the residential complex planned in Lembede. Residents of the small village of Frelkhoven united and protested against the “huge” building.
“We bought a house in a rural area just for the peace and quiet, just like many other people here,” says Maureen van Hertum from Freilkhoven. “Soon there will be 400 migrant workers in a community of 100 residents.”
For her, this means a three-story building two hundred meters from her home. She expects inconvenience and fears for her safety. “I now cycle alone on the street in the evening. What will happen when the apartment complex there has 400 people?” Van Hertom is not opposed to labor migration, but he does not believe such a large housing facility is appropriate in a rural area. That is why the community is taking action in the municipality of Boxtel.
Frelkhoven releases the statement today Stopping the labor migration industry. Working groups from other places where there are plans to build large residential barracks to support the work: Bergen op Zoom, Dentellord, Vigil, Roosendaal and Riel. They want to collect as many signatures as possible, also from other municipalities where this is happening, and present them to politicians in The Hague.
Leon Andrad fears his hometown is becoming a drain. His village may house 800 migrant workers in two locations. “We get all kinds of things here that we don’t want. As a result, a large group here has lost confidence in the local government.”
“We are never greeted with applause, but often with skepticism,” says Frank van Gool of OTTO Work Force. He has built twenty guest houses throughout the Netherlands and more will follow. “We do not have enough living space to meet the high demand for housing in our country. Migrant workers also suffer from this,” he says.
A new law from 1 January 2026 will no longer allow migrant workers to sleep together in a room, meaning thousands of additional homes will have to be built for them within three years.
VNG says there has always been resistance among local residents, but she sees large groups of people coming together and working together to stop the large apartment complexes. It is believed that these housing facilities have a negative image due to problems in neighborhoods where cheap homes are bought and rented to undocumented migrant workers.
According to Reddick, resistance depends on where it is built. “If the complex is well managed, resistance usually decreases quickly. With decent housing that follows the rules, with good facilities and 24-hour management, it often seems that the neighborhood experiences little inconvenience.”
According to Anne Dillen of the employers’ organization VNO-NCW Brabant Zealand, labor migration is not a popular topic. “They are often grouped with asylum seekers and residency holders.”
It considers large residential housing essential and believes that the pressure on the regular housing market would increase if it did not exist. “In a managed housing complex, the chance of any disturbance is much lower than in ‘ordinary homes’ in residential areas. In many cases there is supervision and there are recreational facilities.”
Delin stresses that there is a need for skilled workers for energy conversion and more homes. According to her, temporary employees must also have a place to stay. She hopes to receive more assistance from the national government for municipal managers. “By creating the right image and providing support, but also by moving forward with good housing plans.”
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