Among the precarious population in the Brussels-Capital Region, homeless people are the most vulnerable, and require rapid access to adequate housing and commensurate with their income. In order to meet its commitments and stem the growing phenomenon of homelessness, the Brussels Government must establish a quota of social housing reserved for homeless people with a valid residence permit.
More and more homelessness and poor housing
In the Brussels Region, in general, there is a strong gap between the evolution of the population’s income and that of the costs of access to housing. More and more people are homeless or poorly housed, due to the successive crises (reception, COVID, Ukraine, energy, etc.). In 2022, there were more than 7,134 homeless and poorly housed people, 809 of whom were sleeping on the street.
The purpose of social housing is to help people or households who cannot find answer on the private market, including homeless people. However, there are insufficient, while the number of prospective tenants is constantly increasing.
Social housing: prioritisation systems exist
At the moment, social housing is allocated in chronological order of registration, with the exception of priority titles (accumulation of points), exemptions (e.g. urgent or exceptional circumstances) or contractual allocations. In addition there is an ongoing quota for victims of violence between partners or within families. Indeed, a minimum of 3% of social housing is reserved for these people to speed up their rehousing.
We are advocating for the introduction of a similar quota for homeless people.
A priority quota for the most vulnerable
Homeless people currently find themselves on the same waiting list for social housing as other candidate tenants. However, we know that the extreme conditions of street life have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of this group, who then see their vulnerability increase tenfold. In this context, the absence or loss of housing without obtaining a reference address has serious consequences in terms of lack of access to rights and vulnerability.
The introduction of a quota, taking into account the urgency and precariousness of the homeless population, would allow them to access housing adapted to their needs and income, and structurally supervised reintegration.
Belgium must respect its commitments
Our advocacy is based on the fact that guaranteeing access to housing at a reasonable cost constitutes the primary existence of the Brussels Government, according to its 2019-2024 common general policy statement, from which derive the Emergency Housing Plan (which provides for the acquisition and renovation of public housing as well as increasing the supply of housing for homeless people) and the Integrated Social-Health Plan (cf. Housing First devices).
Lastly, the Belgian Government highlights the need to prepare a structural policy against homelessness, through its fourth federal plan to fight poverty and reduce inequalities. Moreover, Belgium has made a commitment at international level by subscribing to the European Union's Lisbon Declaration on the eradication of homelessness by 2030, the UN's Agenda 2030 and by promoting the issue of homelessness through its EU Council Presidency.