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Brussels looks for long-term housing for 20,000 Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainians complete their registration at a center for the registration of Ukrainian refugees, at the Palace 8 hall of Brussels expo, Monday 14 March 2022. The center is opened to welcome Ukrainians fleeing their country after the Russian invasion. BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE
06:14 01/04/2022

By the end of June, the Brussels region will be looking for 20,000 places to house Ukrainian refugees in the longer term. This follows the phase of providing crisis housing, in which many refugees have ended up at volunteers' homes. By April 15, 3,000 places must be found.

The broadest predictions of federal State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi forecasts a refugee flow of 200,000 Ukrainians to Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region accounts for 10 percent of the refugees, around 20,000 people.

Since the regions are responsible for housing, the Brussels region must therefore find a temporary housing solution for these refugees in the longer term. That amounts to about 5,000 to 6,000 housing units.

By 15 April, the region must already have 3,000 places available, by 31 May 10,000, and by 30 June all 20,000 places must be found.

"We will meet the April deadline, it is the deadlines of the end of May and the end of June that will be much more difficult," said Pierre Verbeeren, coordinator of the Brussels Region's aid programme for Ukrainian refugees.

In this context, the region has launched an appeal to government real estate companies, social housing agencies, government infrastructure and companies with empty offices to look for homes that can be made available in the longer term.

For example, there are discussions going on around an office space that has been vacant for some time and where 160 places could be created, according to Verbeeren.

There will also be an appeal to citizens who can make housing available for a longer period of time

Written by Nick Amies