In Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, Jan Braat's job was hard and getting harder. A veteran local government policy advisor, Braat had responsibility for the housing and integration of asylum seekers and refugees. He was daily confronted with hundreds of people living in the territory of the city, but not formally part of it. As in many countries, asylum seeker reception in the Netherlands is surrounded by high levels of controversy on quite basic questions: who gets help, what type of help, who provides it, and for how long? Braat knew many community organisations were keen to help, but these efforts were actually part of the debates. Many in the community felt these organisations should be discouraged from helping, and some believed that asylum seekers should not be in the city at all. Braat was searching for new ways of working to meet desperate need, but also to navigate these differences. This case can be used to examine the challenges of asylum seeker policy, and topics such as public value, community consultation, multi-level governance and innovation.
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