Anti-poverty action group calls for urgent increase in social housing

Flanders’ Network Against Poverty has stressed the urgent need for more social housing and action to tackle energy poverty.

According to a 2022 census, there are almost 8,000 homeless people in Belgium. Not only is that figure higher than in previous years, there are many more single mothers and families with children among them. “That worries us a lot,” said network spokesperson Heidi Degerickx. 

In a press release on Tuesday, World Homeless Day, the network called for an ambitious housing policy that shortens waiting lists for social housing.

It is also calling for compensation and support for private landlords who offer accommodation on the social rental market, and massive investments to make homes energy efficient. “This is not only good for the climate, but it also fights energy poverty,” it says. 

Third annual census

The latest homelessness census will be carried out overnight from 19-20 October in 56 municipalities across the country by research teams from KU Leuven and UC Louvain, the King Baudouin Foundation, local authorities and social organisations. The census has been carried out for the past three years in various towns and cities, identifying more than 16,000 homeless people in total.

A report by the European Federation of Homeless Organisations shows that at least 895,000 people in the EU and UK live on the streets or in shelters, an increase of 200,000 since its previous report in 2019. 

"We are convinced that an ambitious policy, based on the experiences of people in homeless situations, can contribute to structural solutions"

Belgium's poverty action networks see the country's presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2024 as an opportunity to push harder for a more social Europe, with more focus on the fight against homelessness.

“We are convinced that an ambitious policy to combat homelessness, based on the experiences of people in homeless situations, can contribute to structural solutions,” said Degerickx.

World Homeless Day acts as a platform to advocate for better policies and funding to prevent and end homelessness. It also aims to raise awareness about the needs of people experiencing homelessness and promote work in local communities. 


#FlandersNewsService | A new centre for homeless families is opened in a former police station in Schaarbeek, Brussels, by social aid organisation Samusocial, January 2023 © BELGA PHOTO INE GILLIS

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