Homeless population in Brussels more than doubled in last decade
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Homeless population in Brussels more than doubled in last decade


The number of people living in the streets of Brussels has more than doubled over the past ten years with the number of women among them rising, a new study showed.

In November of 2018, aid and social workers counted a total of 4,187 people who were living on the streets, in a homeless shelter, or in inadequate housing, up from 1,729 people in 2008.

The most recent figures represent an increase of 142%, findings which the authors of the study say signal a sharp need for authorities to provide a structural solution to the issue of homelessness in the city.

The findings were the result of a study published in Brussels Studies, an interdisciplinary journal focusing on urban issues in Brussels and authored by Benoît Quittelier and Nicolas Horvat of Bruss’Help, a homeless non-profit.

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The study also showed that the shelters provided by authorities were becoming saturated, with over 700 people admitted in 2018, representing an increase of 293.7% in comparison to 2008.

A total of 20 minors figured among those admitted to shelters over the last ten years, with the number of women rising from 50 to 84, representing a hike of 68%.

Researchers found a total of 1,044 people living in inadequate or unrecognised housing, such as unoccupied buildings, known as squats, but also religious or ad-hoc shelters.

Over one in two people categorised as homeless in 2018 were living in the most precarious situations, meaning they did not have regular access to a housing shelter, in a hike of 327.6% since 2008.

The study points out the need for authorities to provide a solution that goes beyond only housing, noting that follow-up and integrations schemes need to be expanded and reinforced.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times