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    Citizen-led migrant housing centre faces eviction in Brussels

    Illustration picture shows the installation of extra beds at the 'Porte d'Ulysse' center for refugees in Haren, Brussels, February 2018. Credit: © Belga/Laurie Dieffembacq

    A migrant housing centre in northern Brussels must leave the public building it is operating out of in a few weeks after authorities said they would not renew the lease.

    An estimated 350 homeless migrants and asylum seekers are thought to stay in the Porte d’Ulysse housing centre every night, according to Le Soir.

    The centre, ran by the citizen non-profit Plateforme Citoyenne, has been based in a public building in Haren, to the northeast of Brussels, since December 2017, after authorities granted them a lease through a temporary social housing agreement.

    The lease was renewed at the start of the year by regional authorities, but media reports at the weekend said that the lease would not be renewed again.

    The hundreds of occupants of the centre will be “asked to evacuate the premises” on 30 September, with regional arts and crafts school Brusafe expected to set up shop in the building.

    Members of the non-profit say authorities should step up and provide an alternative housing solution for the organisation to continue its work.

    “We provide a service to the community with this project,” spokesperson Mehdi Kassou told BX1. “We don’t think it is our role to start looking for a new building,” he said, referring to a set of norms according to which city and regional authorities, or public social aid centres (CPAS), should provide a solution.

    Since 2017,  teams of volunteers work to provide homeless migrants a “warm, dry and safe place to stay each night,” the platform’s website says.

    The centre operates seven days a week and organises a series of recruitment campaigns and events to support its activities.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times