'Housing first' project launched in Brussels city centre to help tackle homelessness

'Housing first' project launched in Brussels city centre to help tackle homelessness
Credit: DoucheFLUX.

DoucheFLUX, a Brussels-based non-profit organisation active in helping the homeless, launched its 'housing first' project on Tuesday with the support of the Common Community Commission (COCOM) and in partnership with the Social Housing Agency (AIS) in the neighbouring municipality of Saint-Gilles.

The aim of the project is to provide vulnerable homeless people with immediate housing and counselling adapted and catered to their needs.

The 'housing first' project provides highly vulnerable homeless people with immediate housing, with no conditions apart from payment of rent and compliance with the lease. They are then supported by a multidisciplinary team: social workers, psychologists, and experts in drug addiction risk reduction.

DoucheFLUX aims to provide individual, intensive and personalised support to facilitate their social inclusion, promote their recovery and help them achieve autonomy through a sustainable return to housing.

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Brussels Social Action Minister Alain Maron pointed out that the number of people supported through housing first projects has tripled since 2019 (290 people in 2023). "This housing first methodology, which as its name suggests starts with solving the housing problem, has proven its relevance."

The Brussels-based non-profit organisation was founded in 2011 after a meeting between citizens and people who at the time were "SDF" (sans domicile fixe – French for homeless). Faced with a glaring lack of affordable showers and laundrettes in Brussels, citizens decided to open a dynamic, convivial and approachable space where people living on the streets could regain their dignity, starting with hygiene.

After five years and €2 million of private support, the DoucheFLUX day centre opened its doors in 2017. It was followed by a transit shelter in March 2020 to protect homeless women who had nowhere to stay during the lockdown.

Still today, the organisation thinks of the women on the streets and only opens its spaces to women on Wednesdays.

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