93 children become homeless in Brussels as emergency hotel’s capacity decreases

93 children become homeless in Brussels as emergency hotel’s capacity decreases
Credit: Belga

Around 150 people, including 93 children, lost the roof over their heads when the Samusocial hotel in the north of Brussels closed down at the end of last month.

The four hotels that were established during the coronavirus crisis as emergency shelters for people without a roof over their heads reduced their capacity on 31 May as the financing by the Brussels Region of the scheme ended, making several people homeless, according to reports from Bruzz.

“We had to cut 150 places and some of those families now have no other solution,” Samusocial’s director Sébastien Roy said, adding that he had no idea how many of the 93 children are still able to attend school. He has no idea how many of those children are still attending school.

In the residential centres, families are obliged to send their children to school, but when they have left the reception, “we cannot do that anymore”, Roy added.

A Schaerbeek school headmaster first sounded the alarm about the situation last week after a six-year-old pupil did not turn up to school. Her mother explained that the family had recently relocated to the Trone metro stop, as they had no other place to stay.

According to the principal, the family did not qualify for shelter. The regional Public Centre for Social Welfare (OCMW) has been contacted, and a procedure is ongoing for this particular family, according to Bruzz. The family is now temporarily renting a flat.

“We have mainly found help through individuals, not from the official organisations. I have also contacted local politicians,” the school principal said.

Oversaturated system

The organisations that had originally created the refuge hotel were asked to rehouse the residents, but not everyone was able to be relocated to a new shelter because of the place shortage, Roy explained.

“The number of shelter places is too low. Last year, we received 750 families. We were able to find an alternative for more than 600 families. Our priority was on the most vulnerable families, for example with young children or with medical or psychological vulnerabilities,” he said, adding that the system is “oversaturated”.

However, the closure of the hotels was announced some time ago, according to competent Minister Alain Maron, who added that the number of shelter places for homeless people and migrants increased to more than 3,000 in the region over the past year.

“The reduction in the number of reception places at the end of the winter occurs every year. It has been anticipated and the search for appropriate solutions for as many people as possible continues, in cooperation with the sector and the regional administration for homeless assistance Bruss’help,” Maron said.

According to its director, François Bertrandis, who helped Samusocial with an exit plan, the relocation of residents in the shelter hotels of Anderlecht, Lemonnier, and ‘t Eilandje was successful, but that the exit strategy failed for the hotel in the north of the city.

On 1 July, a new reception house for single-parent families will open, with 45 places.

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