On Tuesday 21 March 2023, part of the Street Nurses team met the Federal Minister for Social Integration and the Fight against Poverty, Karine Lalieux. On the agenda were constructive exchanges around a common vision: that of a Belgium where homelessness is no more.
Homeless people have specific needs
After a presentation on Street Nurses and its methodology, exchanges between the team and the Minister highlighted several observations and expectations.
On the one hand, the colleagues were able to insist on the importance of having housing available to rehouse their patients who have very low incomes. Moreover, social housing is the most suitable for our patients because it is the only housing where the rent corresponds to 30% of the tenants' income.
On the other hand, there is the importance of a specific and adapted support to the needs of people in the long term, because too many care institutions or administrations are not low threshold or proactive enough.
Strengthening Housing First projects
Minister Lalieux shared with us her vision for the fight against homelessness in Belgium. Indeed, she hopes that the launch of calls for Housing First projects will strengthen access to housing for homeless people.
At the European level, she hopes that Belgium's presidency of the Council of the EU in 2024 will also provide an opportunity to discuss concrete mechanisms to be forwarded to the next commission.
Mr E.*, who left the street a while ago, spoke about his experience
The Minister had the opportunity to meet Mr E.(*), one of the people followed by our My Way department, which works around the projects and dreams of the person to ensure sustainable stabilisation in housing.
For Mr E., we need to "financially support places that allow homeless people to recharge their batteries", but this is only the beginning. As a person with a motor disability, he also advocates for "a more inclusive society, regardless of skin colour, gender, disability or other differences". Finally, Mr E. recalled that for him, "living with dignity means having enough means to protect oneself and not to deprive oneself", denouncing the precariousness resulting from insufficient social income.
(*) The patient's name has been anonymised.
Together we can do it!
Through this meeting, the Minister wanted to know about the work of street nurses and the life paths of our patients until they are stabilised in housing and society.
For us, it was a question of demonstrating that it is possible to get off the street thanks to the Housing First scheme, which the Minister is supporting to expand at national level.
We thank Minister Lalieux for her attentiveness and interest in the fight against homelessness that we have been waging for 16 years.