Empty private housing in the provinces of Liege and Namur should be put under public management so the homes can be temporarily used for the accommodation of flood victims, according to the Walloon Workers’ Party PTB.
The party called on the creation of special brigades to help identify privates homes that have been uninhabited for six months to establish a land register so the available buildings can be used as housing following the deadly floods in Belgium.
“We cannot leave to their fate all those who have today a destroyed or unhealthy home due to the floods,” Germain Mugemangango, group leader of the French-speaking Communist Party, said in a press release on Tuesday.
“This is why it is urgent to rehabilitate as many empty homes as possible and put them under public management,” he added.
Over the last month, many parts of Belgium, especially in the south, have been ravaged by floods, which resulted in around 6,000 families in Liege, 5,500 families in Verviers, 2,000 people in Pepinster and 600 people in Trooz, becoming (temporarily) homeless.
Mugemangango said that there are already nearly 1,300 unrented but habitable public housing units in the Province of Liege, another 500 buildings that are habitable but are considered unrentable, but that “it is more difficult to know the number of uninhabited private dwellings.”
“This is why we want special ’empty housing’ brigades to be set up as a matter of urgency in order to make an immediate register of these dwellings,” Mugemangango said.
He argued that the Walloon regional authorities should be in charge of providing the financial, logistical and human resources to the Liege municipalities to establish this register.
“In exchange, the public authorities will finance any rehabilitation work and provide rent to the owners. This public management will apply until the homes of the victims are habitable again,” he said, adding that “exceptional circumstances call for exceptional measures.”
The floods that occurred on 14 and 15 July resulted in 36 people dying and thousands having to relocate after their homes became completely destroyed or uninhabitable.
Last week, the Walloon government put together an initial €2 billion plan to rebuild Wallonia after last week’s deadly floods, of which €800 million will come from the Walloon recovery plan and €200 million will come from the Walloon treasury, to be injected into the disaster fund.