Brussels houses homeless migrants in vacant hotels

Brussels houses homeless migrants in vacant hotels
With housing shelters saturated or shuttered, unhoused migrants camped in a park in northern Brussels. © Belga

Regional authorities in Brussels are lodging unhoused migrants in two hotels in an effort to prevent them from gathering and sleeping outdoors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Since 20 March, two hotels in Brussels with a combined capacity of 220 spaces have been hosting migrants who do not have access to official or associative housing services.

A spokesperson for Rudi Vervoort, head of the Brussels-Capital Region's government, said the decision was taken "for the sake of public health."

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"We will not leave these people in precarious situations without housing during these particular times," spokesperson Zeynep Balci told Bruzz.

Following the imposition of lockdown measures in mid-March, public gatherings have been banned in order to ensure social distancing measures.

But with no access to housing, migrants could be still seen gathering in Parc Maximilien near Gare du Nord, with authorities in of the City of Brussels confirming police had been sent to clear them out of the park.

Shortly after the imposition of the lockdown measures, a migrant housing centre announced it would shut down to ensure social distancing rules, with a staff member saying the decision did not include provisions to avoid people ending up in the streets.

The news prompted an unidentified hotel owner to open up the property to homeless migrants, also providing them with two meals per day.

Porte d'Ulysse, a migrant housing centre run by a non-profit with support from authorities, already has its 350 places occupied.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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