30.6 thousand homeless people in the Netherlands

© Hollandse Hoogte / Hans van Rhoon
There were an estimated 30.6 thousand homeless people in the Netherlands on 1 January 2023. One year earlier, that figure was 26.6 thousand, which means that the previous decline in homelessness has come to an end. The number of homeless people of European origin was up compared to the previous year. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.
Several different groups are categorised as homeless for the purpose of this study. They include people sleeping outdoors or in a car, people living in squats and holiday homes, and people staying in emergency shelters. CBS also counts as homeless people who do not have their own accommodation and are staying with family, friends or acquaintances. People in temporary shelters are counted as homeless if their stay is short-term. The study focuses on homeless people aged 18 to 64 who are included in the population register of a municipality in the Netherlands. This group falls under the ETHOS classification.

Nearly 31 thousand homeless people

CBS estimates that there were 30.6 thousand homeless people between the ages of 18 and 64 at the start of 2023. This puts the number of homeless people back at around the same level as in 2021. On 1 January 2022, an estimated 26.6 thousand people were homeless. When CBS first published this statistic in 2009, 17.8 thousand people were homeless.

Homeless people aged 18-64 years1)
Year In registers (x 1 000) Estimated additional number (x 1 000) Foutmarge totaal (x 1 000)
2009 6,0 11,8 15,7 - 21,4
2010 7,0 16,3 20,5 - 26,1
2011 7,2 17,2 21,7- 27,5
2012 6,6 20,7 23,9- 31,9
2013 6,9 17,9 22,2- 28,5
2014 7,0 19,9 24,0 - 31,4
2015 7,2 23,8 27,5 - 36,3
2016 7,6 22,9 27,0 - 36,0
2017 8,2 26,3 30,3 - 41,2
2018 8,1 31,2 33,5 - 48,2
2020 9,0 27,4 33,0 - 41,2
2021 9,8 22,2 29,4 - 35,6
2022 8,7 17,9 24,3 - 29,7
2023 8,8 21,8 27,8 - 34,9
1) The uncertainty bars indicate the degree of uncertainty regarding the estimate of the total number of homeless people. This is also known as the confidence interval, within which it is 95 percent certain that the real number of homeless people is located. 2) No figures are available for 2019 because one of the sources is missing.

More registered homeless people

At the start of 2023, there were around 9 thousand homeless people in the relevant registers. These included people with a postal address at a shelter, people receiving welfare benefits without a fixed address, and homeless people who came into contact with the probation service. Since 2020, the share of homeless people listed in registers has hovered at around 30 percent of the total number of homeless people. Between 2011 to 2018, it was around 25 percent on average.

Not all homeless people are included in these registers because homeless people do not always use the facilities provided or may have no contact with the relevant agencies. CBS makes an estimate regarding these less visible homeless people, such as those staying with friends or family. The estimated number of homeless people in this category has declined over the years, in relative terms. The method of estimation was developed partly in order to identify (partially) hidden groups and only applies to people who could appear in administrative sources. This means that, for example, people without a valid residence permit or people who do not receive welfare benefits because of their age (under 18 or over 65) are not included in the estimated number of homeless people.

More homeless people who were born in other European countries

The composition of the homeless population has changed slightly in terms of where they originate. At the start of 2023, 8 percent of homeless people were born in a European country other than the Netherlands. This figure was just 5 percent in 2022. Within this group, the number of women and young people (aged 18 to 26 years) has increased. This group may include migrant workers, but it is not possible to know how many.

Origins of homeless people
Herkomst2023 (%)2022 (%)
Born in the Netherlands, parent(s) born in the Netherlands3637
Born in the Netherlands, parent(s) born in another European country32
Born in the Netherlands, parent(s) born outside Europe2021
Born in Europe (excl. the Netherlands) 85
Born outside Europe3434

The increase in the number of homeless people born in another European country is the only change in the composition of the homeless population visible at the start of 2023. Apart from a few fluctuations, this composition has hardly changed over the years. In 2023, the vast majority of homeless people were men - over 80 percent. A total of 20 percent of homeless people were aged between 18 and 26 years old, 61 percent were aged between 27 and 49 years old, and 19 percent were aged between 50 and 65 years old.

Majority of homeless people in larger cities are of non-Dutch origin

A total of 36 percent of homeless people are registered in one of the Netherlands’ four largest cities (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht). In the four major cities, 80 percent of homeless people are of non-Dutch origin. That figure is 55 percent in the rest of the Netherlands. In the four largest cities there is also a relatively high proportion of homeless people who were either born outside Europe themselves (42 percent), or at least one of whose parents was born outside Europe (28 percent). In the rest of the country, the figures were 29 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

Origin of homeless people in the four largest Dutch cities
GroepJaartalBorn in NL, parent(s) in NL (%)Born in NL, parent(s) born in Europe (%)Born in NL, parent(s) born outside Europe (%)Born in Europe (outside NL) (%)Born outside Europe (%)
Homeless people
in four largest cities
Homeless people
in four largest cities
Homeless people
outside four largest cities
Homeless people
outside four largest cities

More CBS studies on homelessness

There is also another study on homelessness within CBS, called the Homelessness Monitor. That study focuses on monitoring homeless people in emergency and transitional shelters. It is being carried out at the municipal level, but should provide a nationwide picture in the future. The first results are expected in the autumn of 2024.