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Samusocial appeals for help finding suitable homeless shelters for winter
Brussels' homeless charity, Samusocial, has launched an appeal to businesses and private property owners to find suitable premises to accommodate 600 homeless people in the city this winter.
The winter aid plan is due to begin in mid-November, but the organisation said its discussions with public authorities in the city had yet to produce enough available spaces.
Samusocial's shelter on Rue Colonel Bourg in Evere can take up to 300 people - but two other facilities look unlikely to be ready in time.
A building on Boulevard Poincaré in the city centre, with room for another 300, is not yet allowed to open, pending safety checks and authorisation from the fire brigade.
A former shelter on Rue Royale, which in previous winters has also welcomed 300 homeless people per night, is no longer fit for purpose as it does not meet Samusocial's required standards.
The Brussels region has said it does not have a suitable building available. Samusocial has also contacted each of the region's 19 municipalities, without any concrete proposals so far.
The organisation is now appealing to the private sector for help. The ideal empty building is one that was originally built to house people - such as former hotels, retirement homes or boarding schools.
"We are looking for buildings with a minimum capacity of 150," said the charity's director Sébastien Roy. "Managing several smaller buildings with a limited capacity would cost us too much."