Bruss’Help proposes plan to end homelessness in Brussels by 2029

Bruss’Help, the organisation that coordinates emergency aid and integration assistance for homeless people in Brussels, has presented a master plan to end homelessness in Brussels by 2029. The plan consists of 35 measures divided into four phases: strengthening prevention, improving rapid action, optimising support and combating institutional violence.

Bruss'Help aims to develop a global strategy to have "a homeless-free region" by 2029. To achieve this, it wants to involve all related sectors such as healthcare, mental healthcare, justice, youth support, migration, police and security. The organisation’s plan was presented at a conference attended by members of the Brussels government, actors from the assistance sector and people with experience of homelessness or poor housing.

Bruss'Help proposes 35 measures in the four phases. To prevent people from ending up on the streets, “no one should lose their housing or leave an institution without receiving a suitable alternative proposal”, they say.

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With the agency Brussels Housing, Bruss'Help will make proposals to the Brussels government to moderate rental prices, combat discrimination and create suitable and accessible housing for large and disadvantaged families. It also plans to draw up cooperation protocols with the health and prison sectors.

Next, rapid action is needed to reduce the time a person spends without a place to live, to prevent the situation becoming permanent and the lack of housing causing other problems. One way to do this is to increase the number of sustainable homes and redefine the system of emergency shelters.

Two-thirds of the more than 3,000 emergency shelters should be transformed into transit places, so that people do not stay in emergency shelters for too long but enter the regular network as soon as possible. These inlude sites run by the asylum agency Fedasil, stayng with families or at residential care centres.

Acceptable support procedures

Support to homeless people should also be optimised. That support “should respond to any problem, including addictions and mental health”. Half of the people living in Brussels metro stations have drug and alcohol problems and 40 per cent of them have health problems.

The final stage is fighting institutional violence and injustice. Bruss'Help wants to introduce ethical and socially acceptable support procedures to avoid "over-intervention and invasive or paternalistic" interventions.

Two hundred professionals and people with experience of homelessness worked on the plan. The organisation stressed that it is not a political memorandum, but a guideline for the next government.

Bruss'Help's biennial census shows that more than 7,000 people are living on the streets in the Brussels region, but these figures are probably an underestimate.


A homeless person lies on a public bench © PHOTO TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

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