Give homeless people easier access to social housing

Based on our 10 years’ experience in Housing First in Brussels, we are convinced that homeless people should get easier access to housing.

It is above all a fundamental social right, consecrated at international, regional, and national levels, and guaranteed by Article 23 of the Belgian Constitution, which enshrines the right to "decent housing".

Even so, there were more than 7,000 homeless and poorly housed people in 2022 (compared to more than 5,000 in 2020); and successive crises (health, economic, migration, etc.) only increase this number each year.

Ending homelessness is a political choice

Our team and the field associations do a remarkable job of reintegrating homeless people into housing and society. However, associations alone are not able to relocate the growing number of people who find themselves on the street.

At Street Nurses, we believe that together we can end homelessness. However, a change of mentality remains necessary, especially at the political level. Decisions and actions of political actors strongly influence the living conditions of homeless people - and currently these remain mainly focused on emergency solutions (increase of emergency shelters, temporary housing agreements, etc.), to the detriment of sustainable solutions (measures preventing people losing their home, reinforcement of support services for relocated people, construction of social housing, priority access to social housing, mandatory rent grid, etc.).

Illustration © Pierre Lecrenier

By signing the Lisbon Declaration in 2021, renewed with the signing of the La Hulpe Declaration in 2024, Belgium committed itself to ending homelessness by 2030.

Preventing homelessness, managing homelessness, health, access to rights, access to affordable housing, migration flows, etc.: on each of these issues Belgium will have to do essential work to achieve this objective.

The lobbying approach of Street Nurses

The creation of the Lobbying Team in the Brussels’ section in 2021 resulted from the wish to extend our impact, already visible in the field, to the political sphere. We want to raise awareness and promote the interests of patients in political bodies and to confront politicians with their positions on homelessness.

In this way, the Lobbying Team wants to influence and convince politicians to introduce more structural measures improving homeless peoples’ access to rights (housing, health, social, etc.) so as to end homelessness in the Brussels-Capital Region.

To achieve this, the Lobbying Team:

  • collaborates with politicians with expertise in social and housing policies through inquiries, (in)formal meetings, drafting documents, participation in working groups, etc.
  • collaborates with the homelessness and related sectors through participation in forums, mobilisation actions, organizing events, awareness campaigns, etc.
  • supports any action related to our values and missions, whether through drafting opinion pieces, participation in events, etc.

We worked on the introduction of a quota of social housing reserved for homeless people. This measure was adopted by the Brussels Government in March 2024.

In addition to collaborating with the political and associative worlds, the Lobbying Team is considering developing a new project entitled "Patients’ Voices". With this project we want to involve homeless people, or those with street experience, in lobbying work by collectively developing proposals for improved housing, social policy, mental health, and prevention.

Do you want to know more about our advocay work?