Homelessness in Brussels continues to rise

The number of homeless people in the Brussels Region continues to rise, according to new figures.

Support centre for homeless care, La Strada, counted 4,187 homeless people in Brussels in 2018, which is over 800 more than in 2016. The number of children and minors has remained stable, but is still alarming, according to the organisation.

Every two years, La Strada counts the homeless people in Brussels to provide governments and organisations with up-to-date information to base their policies on.

Since their first count in 2008, the number of people living on the streets has more than doubled. On the night the count took place, 5 November 2018, 759 people were effectively sleeping on the streets, compared to 707 in 2016.

The researches made a distinction between the different types of homeless people: people without housing that can sleep in a shelter, people living in unsuitable housing or hospitals, and homeless people. The Civic Supporting Refugee Platform accommodated 685 people during the census, compared to 570 overnight stays via Samusocial.

“It is an alarming observation that a lot of families with children live in squats. They are not on the radar of social organisations, and therefore have no access to primary rights such as education and a living wage,” said La Strada researcher François Bertrand to Bruzz.

In 2018, 612 homeless children were counted, 20 of whom lived on the street, compared to 605 in 2016, with 24 living on the street. The number of children who stayed in a crisis shelter increased sharply from 149 to 227. Children who stayed in a squat, in turn, went from 90 to 11 children.

“There are far too few social homes,” is how Bertrand explained the increase in the number of homeless people. He also pointed out that there are only 36,117 social housing units in the Brussels Region, while 48,804 households are on the waiting list.

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