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Number of beggars in Stib stations increases by 171%
The number of beggars in stations on the Brussels Stib/Mivb network increased by 171% between 2020 and 2021.
There were 456 beggars counted between January and October of last year (the usual recording period for such figures), compared to 168 in 2020, Bruzz reports.
The figures come from observation counts in the field, but Stib says it also fields additional reports and complaints from passengers.
The Brussels public transport company is hoping to address the problem in a variety of ways, not only through cooperation with police but also through working with various non-profit organisations whose mission is to provide help and services.
“Between November 2016 and November 2020, Stib had a framework contract with asbl/vzw Dune and asbl/vzw Transit, which provided training for Stib agents,” said minister of mobility Elke Van den Brandt (Groen), who provided the figures in response to questions in Brussels Parliament.
But due to the Covid-19 crisis, those training sessions were suspended until the end of last year, when a new call was launched.
“Normally, these trainings should start again in the first quarter of 2022,” Van den Brandt said.
Homeless population still largest group
The number of homeless people also grew by 53% over the same period, while the number of musicians decreased to just 23 performers and the number of drug addicts remained the same at around 700 people.
The ever-growing homeless population makes up the largest group in the Brussels metro stations by far, with 2,029 counted in 2019, 2,361 in 2020 and 3,601 in 2021.
Brussels has been struggling to provide places for the homeless in shelters throughout the city for some time now, a problem that usually gains the most attention during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing.
Last winter, some train stations welcomed the homeless on particularly cold days when traditional reception points were overwhelmed.
In metro stations, security officers offer homeless people referrals to Samusocial or to Centre Ariane for temporary shelter.