Social housing barely adapted to the needs of Brussels residents

28 December 2021
Mathias Vanden Borre

Figures requested by Brussels MP Mathias Vanden Borre show that 13,356 or 37% of social housing dwellings are not adapted to the needs of their residents. For example, there were no fewer than 6,623 dwellings that were overcrowded (or dwellings that were too small) in 2020, and a similar number of under-occupied dwellings (or dwellings that were too large). Moreover, barely 66 of a total of 4,501 relocation applications (relocation to a more suitable home) were actually realised in 2020, which is negligible. The N-VA advocates efficient social housing, whereby the limited housing is allocated as efficiently as possible, and is calling on the government to step up monitoring and enforcement in social housing. Last year, 133,000 inhabitants of Brussels were on the waiting list for social housing. That is more than 10.5% of the entire population of the region.

“Social housing corporations must increase the rent with a surcharge per bedroom (from the second surplus bedroom) if a social tenant lives in a house that is too large,” says Mathias Vanden Borre. To date, most of the 16 housing corporations have not imposed any or a very limited number of surcharges. The rent surcharges that are imposed for a house that is too large remain largely unpaid. Moreover, no fewer than 10% of the total number of social housing dwellings are vacant.

Surcharge per unnecessary room

“I advocate an efficient, correct and equitable allocation of the scarce social housing to the people who are actually entitled to it. For example, it is unacceptable that a couple should have a home with three or more bedrooms when they only need one bedroom. In such cases, the housing corporations must increase the rent with a surcharge per (unnecessary) bedroom,” Mathias Vanden Borre says.

One well-organised management system

Nor is it the intention that a family of six has to live in a house that is too small. This also means that a smooth flow of social tenants is necessary if the dwelling is not (or no longer) adapted to the needs of the social tenant. The hopelessly fragmented system does not allow for efficient management. Furthermore, there are absurd rules that make relocations almost impossible. For example, it is currently only possible to move to another dwelling within the same municipality or within a radius of five kilometres. Housing corporations, social rental offices, PCSWs and other actors each manage housing. These urgently need to be integrated into one well-organised management system,” Mathias Vanden Borre says.

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