The real social emergency: a “Convention on the fight against destitution and homelessness in Brussels”

On 28 June 2017, under the title “What opportunities does the Samusocial crisis open up for us?”, DoucheFLUX Think Tank #22 − exceptionally co-organised with the AMA, BICO and ROTB federations – brought together more than 50 people from 29 organisations involved in the fight against destitution and homelessness.

The diverse roles of those present did not prevent them from reaching a remarkable convergence of views:

  • The Samusocial crisis would be nothing more than a deplorable incident, were it not part of a wider problem, highlighted by a recent statistic from La Strada which illustrates the abject failure of Brussels policy in this field: since 2008, the number of people who are homeless or living in inadequate housing has virtually doubled. The causes of this failure include opaque political practices and decisions; a general lack of funding for those working in the field; the fact that they have to compete with each other for funding; the failure to take account of their opinions and constantly repeated recommendations; their forced enrolment in the integrating logic of the “active social State”; an instrumentalisation of the (questionable) concept of “social emergency”; an imbalance between the financial resources allocated to the social emergency on the one hand and to projects seeking long-term solutions on the other; the catastrophic shortage of affordable housing; and the absence (illogical, because it would be less costly) of a half-way decent policy of prevention. The organisations denounced a policy of managing the consequences of homelessness and called for an integrated and coherent policy to tackle it, which must include attacking its causes.
  • This means that it is high time to organise and finance a “Convention on the fight against destitution and homelessness in Brussels”. On the basis of the objective data already collected, the recommendations already made and the research already carried out, such a convention would seek to bring together everyone involved (not limited to the agencies active in the field), not forgetting those in need of help and the general public, in order to draw up a roadmap to be followed, in the form of a programme to be submitted to the next regional government.
  • Without further delay, we must sound the alarm: on 4 September, a mobilisation of the various agencies, of those in need and of the general public (which is increasingly concerned by this issue) will demonstrate a broad consensus about the need to work differently, to reshuffle the cards, to start a new process to finally put an end to homelessness in Brussels.

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