Effectively fighting homelessness requires the availability of clear, reliable and comparable data.
For the second consecutive year, the King Baudouin Foundation has supported research teams (from (LUCAS KU Leuven and UCLouvain CIRTES) in organising point-in-time counts of homeless people at the end of 2021 in four cities and regions: Charleroi, Namur, the southern part of West Flanders and the Vilvoorde area.
A total of 3,847 people were recorded as being homeless.
This issue is not solely to be found in large cities; in the smallest towns too there are homeless people, even though the proportions are lower.
Those recorded in the public space, in emergency housing and shelters, represented only around one third of the total number of homeless enumerated. This confirms the existence of ‘hidden’ homelessness (people obliged to lodge with friends or other family members).
Some 30% to 35% of the people counted as homeless were women and 26% were children. Young adults were also among the homeless (around 20%), as were people with an immigrant background (between 20% and 40%).
The link between homelessness and time previously spent in an institution (psychiatric, prison or child welfare services) was clear. Problems of (mental) health and drug abuse were also frequent.
A spokesman said, “The King Baudouin Foundation would like to express its gratitude for the involvement and courage of local government services and the numerous associations, institutions and volunteers who participated in these latest inventories.
“At the end of 2022, it will continue to support further inventories, working together with new partners in the German-speaking Community, in Wallonia and Flanders.”