Eviction of citizen-led migrant housing centre pushed back by one month
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    Eviction of citizen-led migrant housing centre pushed back by one month

    With no alternative in sight, a citizen aid group's use of a public to house homeless migrants has been extended by one month. Credit: Plateforme citoyenne de soutien aux réfugiés Bruxelles/Facebook

    The migrant housing centre operated by a citizen-based aid group will be able to remain in a public building for an additional month, the Mayor of Brussels announced on Monday.

    Mayor Philippe Close announced the decision as he left a meeting with regional and local authorities and aid group representatives regarding the situation of the centre, known as Porte d’Ulysse, according to BX1.

    Members of the citizen non-profit Plateform Citoyenne, which operates the centre, were told at the start of September that a temporary lease agreement signed with city officials would not be renewed and that they needed to vacate the building before the end of the month.

    The housing centre, based in a public building in Haren, to the northeast of Brussels, houses an estimated 350 people each night since it opened in December 2017.

    On 20 September, amid calls from the citizen aid group for authorities to provide a solution which could enable them to continue operations, authorities said they would push back the eviction by eight days to 30 September.

    The situation of homeless migrants in Brussels has remained largely unaddressed by local and federal authorities for years, with migrants resolving to set up informal camps to live in parks and train stations.

    The announcement by Close on Monday, which still needs to be approved by the city council of Brussels, will allow the centre to remain in the building until the end of October, providing additional time to find an alternative solution to the migrants’ eviction.

    Owned by the city, the current building is set to be transformed into a regional school to train public safety, prevention first aid personnel.

    Amid repeated calls from local migrant aid groups, local officials are reportedly still looking for a suitable solution for the centre’s occupants.

    On Friday, when the centre was granted an additional eight days, Federal Migration Secretary Maggie De Block said that the migrants’ undocumented status meant that finding a solution for the centre was “not under her competency.”

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times