Street Nurses set itself the objective of collecting 40.000 € by the end of May 2023 to renovate a Brussels single-family house. From the beginning of summer, it will host a shared housing project, i.e. for people who left street life behind and will share the rent of this house. What role for the future co-tenants and the Street Nurses team?

Two women refurbish a garden table - © Street Nurses

Step 1. Select co-tenants

For Street Nurses it is essential that selected people agree with the principle of living and renting together. Not only should they be happy in communal life but also respect their own and others’ privacy.

“We already proposed the project to some of our patients. Some rejected it out of hand: communal living was not for them. Others were very interested and immediately developed nice plans for the future”, according to Gaëlle, responsible for the “My Way” department of Street Nurses.

As the house offers only three rooms, the selection must be refined. Gaëlle: “It depends not only on us. Interested people asked for meetings with those similarly inclined to find out whether communal living could work. It’s essential that everybody involved is happy and that imbalances are avoided.”

Patients and workers of Street Nurses - © Street Nurses

Step 2. Shape communal life together

To ensure optimal communal living and everybody’s happiness, there should be common rules among co-tenants.

Laure, social worker: “We’re thinking of a communal living charter to be drafted together with the co-tenants. In this way, they will, together, define the form of their communal life.”

Two women having coffee - © Street Nurses

Step 3. Set temporality

The homeless people who left street life behind, must respect the duration of their involvement – that’s an important element in Street Nurses’ methodology.

Fiona, responsible for housing: “We must plan for possible short-term changes in needs, projects and wishes. That’s why we think, for starters, of rental contract of 6 months. If everything works well for everybody, we can consider permanent contracts for the person(s) concerned.”

Two people look out over a courtyard - © Street Nurses

Step 4. Start mutual learning process

What will daily life look like? How much involvement of the teams will be required? How will individual and communal dimensions fit together?

Audrey, responsible for the housing department: “We still have many questions. We created a working group to take a close look at the entire project for the short, medium, and long term. All departments of Street Nurses are represented. The work group is intended to last for the whole duration of the project and will be fully functional from the start.”

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