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

Credit: NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/ Belga

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