Access to affordable, durable homes of good quality is key to the abolition of homelessness. In this context, the Brussels government must take structural measures to get people off the street. That’s why Street Nurses, in the run-up to the 2024 elections, advocates the introduction of a quota to facilitate housing access for homeless people.
Leaving the street behind, thanks to social housing
Social housing is the best solution for the most vulnerable people, considering their income, but it is far from available.
Estimates assume that it takes 10 to 15 years before someone can move into a social home. In itself that is already a disastrous waiting period, but even more so for homeless people whose street life gives them a life expectancy of between 45 and 50 years.
To tackle that problem, we think that public real estate companies (in Belgium SISP and OVM) should reserve an obligatory quota of social homes for homeless people, together with appropriate psycho-social accompaniment.
Housing first, the rest comes later
We base our political demand on our experience of more than 10 years with the Housing First approach, which makes homes available for homeless people without pre-conditions.
As soon as someone has moved in, other concerns can be treated, such as addiction, debt or mental and/or physical problems, also thanks to personal psycho-social accompaniment.
The success of this approach depends largely on access to a home. But Brussels has a lamentable shortage of affordable housing. It is high time for policies with specific measures to promote this type of housing - which justifies our demand for a quota of social housing for homeless people.
The fundamental right to housing: dream or reality?
Housing is a fundamental social right, established at international, regional, and national level. Article 23 of our Constitution guarantees the right to “decent housing”. Nevertheless, in 2020, the Brussels Region counted more than 5300 homeless and badly housed people. 719 among them slept in the street.
The figure for 2022 is not yet known, but in the streets of Brussels we see ever more homeless people with diverse backgrounds.
There is no denying that measures taken to fight and avoid homelessness don’t suffice. And most certainly not in order to reach the goal to which Belgium committed itself by signing the Declaration of Lisbon. Time is running out!
The conclusion is clear: if we want to end homeless in Belgium, homeless people must get priority housing, and more specifically through a housing quota that public real estate companies reserve for them. This is one the solution pointing in the right direction.