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Number of Brussels homeless more than doubles in 10 years

15:54 04/11/2019

The number of homeless people in Brussels has gone from 1,730 in 2008 to nearly 4,200 in 2018. That’s well more than double the number of people living on the streets.

The figures come from Bruss’Help, the region’s agency for the co-ordination of winter shelters for the homeless. Bruss’Help did a count in November of 2018 and found that the figures were rising exponentially.

According to the Red Cross, which helps run the shelters, there are even more this year. “Every year, we are short about 1,500 beds,” Freddy Simon of the Red Cross told VRT. “There are a lot more homeless people in Brussels this year than last year, and there will surely be more next year.”

A full 51% of the total number of homeless people last year had no place to sleep and were reliant on the region’s winter shelters. Another 26% were sleeping in squats or in places provided by religious organisations or other charities. The rest were being housed in reception centres or other housing provided by the CPAS welfare agency.

Despite the lack of spaces, Bruss’Help researchers Benoît Quittelier and Nicolas Horvat told VRT that they would like to see investments made in a “structural policy” to get people into housing rather than funds going to opening more homeless shelters. They are seeing many more young people and families on the street than in previous years.

“A structural approach, such as improved policies for personal guidance and follow-up, will deliver results in the long term,” they said.

Photo: Eric Lalmand/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw