The European refugee crisis of 2016 made possible new thinking about refugee integration. City officials argued that the existing model of reception centres isolated from local communities was not working to help new arrivals to integrate into society. This failure was creating long-term problems for city neighbourhoods where resentment was building up, integration was slow and the well-being of refugees held in limbo was affected.
Refugee reception in the Netherlands is controlled by the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA). There appeared to be a tension between the policy aim of integrating new arrivals and the policies of reception. The city believed that effective integration requires the minimisation of the limbo period experienced by most refugees. The reality experienced by refugees is very different. A typical refugee in the Netherlands moves five times during this limbo period and can wait more than a year to be accepted or refused asylum. In this waiting period, the well-being of the person declines and their ability to reenter the labour market suffers in turn.