Team Street Nurses runs Brussels 20KM and votes for housing

Balloon and QR code unravel political views on homelessness.

Brussels, 26 May 2024

Under the slogan "We walk and vote for the end of homelessness", Street Nurses npo is taking part in the 20 kilometers of Brussels for the 17th time. This year's race falls just before the June 2024 elections. Street Nurses' 221 runners are therefore running with a specific T-shirt and a balloon. Via a QR code, these take the public to a web page where the Brussels party programmes are dissected according to measures that contribute to ending homelessness, with an emphasis on housing and mental health care.

Together with the Brussels Federation for the Right to Housing (BBRoW) and other sector organizations, Street Nurses analyzed the Brussels party programmes for their positions on homelessness. This was done using 13 questions on three themes: 'social housing', ' Shelter and resettlement of homeless people' and 'mental health and addiction'. The answers to the questions were rated with a score ranging from "for", "against", "'hesitant", "unsure" to "not addressed". The party programs analysed were those of DéFI, CD&V, Les Engagés, Ecolo, Groen, MR, Open Vld, N-VA, PS, PTB/PVDA & Vooruit.

The organization thus compiled a matrix of 143 responses. The result gives an indication of how Brussels political parties view the issue of homelessness. Or not.

Not addressed

The good news: only one of the 13 questions received two outright negative answers. Both Défi and MR speak out against renewable or indefinite tenancy in social housing in their party manifestos.

But on the other hand, Street Nurses notes that 69 answer boxes simply remain blank, meaning that the parties did not address them in their election manifestos. Another 13 answers score " hesitant" or "uncertain".

The fact remains that all parties combined express explicitly positive support for one measure or another 59 times. For example, eight of the 11 parties are in favour of continuing the development of social housing (DéFI, MR and Les Engagés have no clear position), seven are in favour of light housing (genre housing modules ...) and six are in favour of developing the model of Social Rental Offices (SLAs).

On the question "Are you in favour of prioritising the production of social housing by imposing quotas on public land?", only two party programmes have a positive position (CD&V & PTB/PVDA), which, incidentally, is also the case for the question on renewable or non-renewable rent in social housing (only PTB/PVDA & Vooruit have a clear positive position).

The PS party programme shows the most positive positions for the questions asked (10/13), followed by Ecolo (9/13). Based on DéFI's party programme, only one question can be answered positively, Green, Open Vld and N-VA remain stuck at two positive positions.


Details of the analysis can be found here  


The importance of these elections

In 2022, the Brussels-Capital Region recorded an unprecedented 7,134 homeless and badly housed people, 809 of them in public spaces. These figures represent an increase of 18.9% between 2020 and 2022. In fact, the number has quadrupled since 2008, highlighting the urgent need for action.

Budgets for helping homeless people have increased significantly in Brussels over the past legislature, from 34.5 million in 2019 to 73 million in 2024. This increase was a response to successive crises that have occurred, namely the Covide epidemic, the rise in energy prices, the war in Ukraine, etc. At the same time, integration schemes (Housing First, home support and counselling after (emergency) shelter) have also been strengthened, albeit to a lesser extent.

In the field of sustainable resettlement, calls by local authorities, CPASs and SVKs (Social Rental Offices) for projects to fix housing for vulnerable groups were a real failure (of the expected 400 housing units, only 50 were fixed). There did come the recent introduction of a quota of 6% social housing for homeless people within the Public Real Estate Companies (OVM).

While some progress has been made, the challenges remain significant and will unfortunately continue to grow, given the increase in the number of homeless and poorly housed people, the policy of not accepting applicants for international protection, the growing crisis in affordable housing, etc.

Street Nurses therefore strongly questions whether the programmes of the political parties are ambitious enough to meet the goal of the Lisbon Declaration, to which Belgium is a signatory, of ending homelessness by 2030. It is up to the next governments (2024-2029) to achieve this goal ...

* The 3 themes and 13 questions:

1. Social Housing

  • a. For or against continuing to build social housing?
  • b. For or against prioritising social housing production by imposing quotas in government areas?
  • c. For or against a quota of social housing per municipality?
  • d. In favour of prioritising the production of social housing by imposing quotas on private projects?
  • e. In favour of renewable or indefinite rental agreements for social housing?

2. Re-housing homeless people

  • a. For or against priority allocation quotas for public housing (other than social housing)?
  • b. For or against the development of SVKs - Social Rental Offices?
  • c. For or against temporary occupancies for housing purposes?
  • d. For or against light housing (tiny houses ...)?
  • e. For more emergency and transit housing?

3. Health and addiction

  • a. For or against strengthening outpatient mental health services?
  • b. For or against strengthening residential mental health services (psychiatric care homes, sheltered housing)?
  • c. For or against developing low-risk drug consumption areas?