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Homelessness among youth growing but invisible problem, NGO says

10:22 09/10/2019

A local well-being centre has drawn attention to the growing problem of what they call “couchsurfers”, youths who stay with friends or relatives because they don’t have a home.

The CAW Brussels centre for social work doesn’t keep figures on the number of couchsurfers, but notes that many of the youths who request their help did so around accommodation-related questions. Last year, CAW Brussels for instance assisted 327 youths in the Flemish Brabant and Brussels area with accommodation requests, helping them find a temporary place to stay, a permanent home or providing assistance with threats of eviction.  

According to CAW Brussels, no-one has ever conducted a study about these homeless youth, which they say constitute a large, but mostly invisible group.

“Couchsurfers often are afraid to cross the threshold of our reception centres,” said Geert Van Buggenhout of CAW Brussel. “We never meet the people who manage to get by on their own,” he told Bruzz.

He added that some youths temporarily stay with friends while they look for a place of their own. But these aren’t the youths, they are concerned about, Van Buggenhout pointed out. “There are youths who need to look for a place where they can spend the night every single day, who don’t have a home. That’s terribly exhausting; they never get any peace.”

Written by Linda A. Thompson

Photo: A protest against child homelessness in Ghent in 2017.

© Belga / Jonas D’Hollander