Right to a roof or right into a wall? For a REAL policy of fighting homelessness in Brussels

The crisis of the Samusocial would only be a deplorable ‘case’ if it had not arisen on the substance of a statement on which La Strada has just put a figure: since 2008, the number of homeless and poorly housed has virtually doubled in Brussels[1]. This sounds like a scathing failure of policies in this area. The causes of this failure include, inter alia, opaque practices and trade-offs, a general lack of means for actors in the field, competition between these actors, failure to take into account their opinions and recommendations, their forced entry into the integrative logic of the ‘active social state’, a frenzied increase in the financial resources allocated to a number of actors involved in the social emergency, the catastrophic lack of affordable housing and the absence of effective prevention policies. The homeless sector denounces a policy of crisis management and calls for an integrated, coherent and ambitious policy of fighting against homelessness, which also tackles the causes of this phenomenon.

Despite the scandals associated with the City of Brussels, the subsidising authorities plan to increase the budget allocated to the Samusocial, from 2017 onwards[2]. At the same time, a new decree is about to be adopted which will create a megastructure whose position will be dominant. In view of the above-mentioned anomalies, it seems appropriate to challenge, in consultation with the entire sector, the relevance and timeliness of these decisions.

The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Samusocial mainly deliberates on governance issues, not on the development of policies to fight against homelessness. We call upon parliamentarians who are members of this committee, as well as all the parties represented in the regional Parliament, to go further in the reflection, by immediately setting up a DECISIONAL ASSEMBLY, which allows genuine consultation with the sector, based on objective data already collected, the recommendations already made and the research already carried out. This decisional assembly will set its own agenda and define its priorities. By bringing together all the stakeholders concerned by the issue – not to mention the beneficiaries, politicians, academics, civil society and other relevant sectors[3] – this decisional Assembly will go beyond the ‘Brussels’ Coordination of aid to the homeless’[4], which will also be maintained. This Assembly must reach a consensus on the decisions to be taken, now and for the rest of the legislature. It must also be responsible for providing a roadmap for decision makers in the next legislature.

Together, we can create opportunities out of the Samusocial crisis to change direction and end homelessness.

To support the present call, a general mobilisation that should include all the operators concerned by the issue – not to mention beneficiaries, politicians, academics, civil society and other relevant sectors – will take place on 18 September 2017.


[1] La Strada is the Brussels Support Center for the homeless sector. This is the result of a double street counting, carried out in November 2016 and March 2017.
[2] Justification of the general Budget for the Expenditures of the Joint Community Commission for the yearly budget 2017, Brussels Parliament, 28 October 2016.
[3] By ‘other relevant sectors’ we mean both those working with people who are vulnerable to homelessness (prisoners, drug users, overindebted people, people mentally ill, victims of domestic violence, unaccompanied minors, undocumented migrants, etc.) and those sectors that create, renovate, make available, rent low cost or requisition housing (multi-owners, investors, squatters, real estate agencies, social real estate agencies, foundations, Community Land Trust, SRLB, etc.).
[4] More about the ‘Brussels’ Coordination of aid to the homeless’ here.

The following organisations fighting poverty in Brussels signed the call:
AMA – APEFE – Aquarelle asbl – Baita – Brussels Platform Armoede – Bruxelles Accueil Porte Ouverte / Brussel Onthaal Open Deur – Cap-iti – CASG pour les Familles – CBCS – Chez Nous / Bij Ons – CRER – Diogenes – DoucheFLUX – DUNE – Espace Social Télé-Service – Fami-Home – FASS – FdSS-FdSSB – Fondation Daishin – Hobo vzw – Le Forum Bruxelles contre les inégalités – L’Îlot – Infirmiers de rue / Straatverplegers – Lhiving – La Ligue des droits de l’homme – Maison d’accueil L’Escale / Onthaalhuis Onderweg – Maisons d’accueil des Petits Riens / Onthaalhuizen van de Spullenhulp – La Maison Rue Verte asbl – Médecins du Monde – Les Petits Riens / Spullenhulp – Pierre d’Angle / Hoeksteen – Les Samaritains / De Samaritanen – Solidarité Grands Froids – Talita

Alteréchos has written an article about it.

The first version of this call (attention please! the date of the mobilisation was modified, it is on 18 September as mentioned above) can be found here.

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