Almost 20,000 homeless people in Flanders

A total of 19,547 people are homeless in Flanders, including 5,707 minors, De Standaard reports on Thursday. "This is the first time we have a concrete figure," said Flemish minister for Poverty Reduction Benjamin Dalle (CD&V, Flemish Christian democrats).

Dalle commissioned the study from the Support Centre for Welfare, Public Health and Family. Since 2020, local counts of homeless people have been carried out in Flanders, which have now been scientifically extrapolated to the whole of Flanders by the Lucas research centre at KU Leuven. 

"The absolute number doesn't really surprise me, but the large number of minors does," Professor Koen Hermans, who supervised the study, told De Standaard. "Isn't it unacceptable that 5,707 minors are in a precarious housing situation?"

A third of homeless people are women, the study showed. More than 60 per cent have Belgian nationality, more than 9 per cent are nationals of another EU country and almost 30 per cent have a non-EU nationality.

"The absolute number doesn't really surprise me, but the large number of minors does"

The study uses a broad definition of homelessness. It estimates that 680 people in Flanders actually live on the streets and another 585 sleep in emergency shelters.

"These two categories are usually considered by policymakers as the 'real homeless', but they are only the tip of the iceberg," said Hermans. "The group of people with a very precarious housing situation who are at risk of ending up on the street is much larger."

For this reason, the study also includes people staying in shelters, people who are about to leave an institution and do not yet have a stable housing solution, people living in caravans or squats, people staying temporarily with friends and family, and people who are at risk of being evicted within the month. This brings the total to 19,547, a figure that may still be an underestimate. 



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