Think Tank #24 – “And what about our homeless people?”: is poverty a competition?

With Frank Laeremans, homeless as a result of administrative difficulties, Nabil Moujahid, of Citoyens Solidaires, Eric Smeesters, who hosts refugees via the Citizens’ Refugee Support Platform and Laurent d’Ursel, President of DoucheFLUX.

The topic “And what about our homeless people?”: is poverty a competition? addresses the widely drawn distinction, in private and public conversations, between “domestic” and “foreign” homeless people: when it comes to destitution, the question of “priorities” is highly divisive. Budgets for the fight against homelessness tend to set destitute people in competition with each other: some people go so far as to draw a distinction between the legitimately poor and the surplus poor, between those on whom it is worth spending public money and those for whom such expenditure cannot be justified.

Is this a pertinent distinction? The question is urgent, as those working in the field constantly come up against these differences between recipients of the aid they are providing. The enthusiasm to help one group is in stark contrast to the lack of attention paid to the other. For example, while there is a broad consensus about the urgent need to rehouse the destitute refugees in parc Maximilien, shouldn’t we be just as concerned about the homeless and encourage people with a spare room to offer overnight accommodation to both migrants and homeless people? Or are these two totally different battlefields, each with its own dedicated activists and ways of operating?

This 24th Think Tank is an opportunity to discuss the categories on which the fight against destitution is based, both among those active in the field and in public discourse. It will, in particular, address the very real problem underlying the highly rhetorical and controversial question “And what about our homeless people?”.

Thursday 14 December 2017, 12.30 to 14.00
DoucheFLUX, rue des Vétérinaires/ Veeartsenstraat 84, 1070 Brussel.
Prior registration preferred (free sandwiches provided): marionnicolas[at]