Project with modular houses for homeless people takes shape

In June 2021, Anderlecht and Forest were the first municipalities in the Brussels Region to grant a building permit for modular housing projects managed by Street Nurses. Since then, the project in Forest has continued to grow.

In the meantime, four modules have been installed on the Barcelona site of near the Forest police station, as a temporary occupation, while waiting for the development of the institution's final project. Three formerly homeless people are already living there permanently. Two of them moved with their module from a site near the canal in Brussels to Forest. With this, the project has taken another step forward. The residents are supervised by Infirmiers de rue and Entraide Saint-Gilloise.

© Arnaud Ghys

The modules are prefabricated, wood-framed houses of 26M2, which meet all the Brussels urban planning standards and can be moved if necessary. The construction period is about six weeks. For this, Infirmiers de rue works in collaboration with the Halézou Collective (B.a-Bois Asbl, The Jof Company and AdVitampierre).

Two more modules - and residents - are expected by the end of spring.

The modules are the property of Infirmiers de rue asbl, financed by a project grant from the Brussels government and partly by its own funds. The organization has also received support from the Besix Foundation, the non-profit organization Huneeds, the Fonds Hospitalières du Sacré-Coeur and the Rotary Clubs Vésale and Forest de Soigne. The management and renting of the modules is done through a Social Real Estate Association (AIS). The land is made available for temporary occupation by, and the municipality of Forest has provided the planning permission.

In the meantime, two other similar projects are in the pipeline in Neder-over-Heembeek and Jette, where respectively 6 and 2 modules are planned on land belonging to the OCMW of Brussels City.

For Nurses on the street, it is important that this project can be rolled out further and/or replicated by other municipalities or other interested actors. According to the organization, creating affordable housing in the city is the key to ending homelessness. "Everyone is looking for affordable housing, we are creating it," says Dr. Pierre Ryckmans, managing director of Infirmiers de rue.

Infirmiers de rue contributes to the end of homelessness in Brussels and Liège, by accompanying homeless people who are very vulnerable in terms of health, towards their reintegration into stable housing. Making them aware of the importance of taking care of their hygiene and health, reinforcing their self-esteem, collaborating with other organizations and creating housing, are the most important levers of the association.

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