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Brussels looks to empty hotels to help homeless during pandemic

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Brussels looks to empty hotels to help homeless during pandemic
Copyright  Euronews
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The pandemic has been a challenge for everybody, especially the most vulnerable in society.

The homeless already struggled to live on a day-to-day basis, but the coronavirus pandemic has just served to aggravate the situation further.

It means local authorities are now having to think outside the box for solutions to the problem during the coronavirus crisis.

Brussels regional government, for example, is making use of the many empty hotels in the area. One was handed over to homeless NGOs and it now hosts people that used to live on the streets.

"We have people here with addiction problems that have been able to have a break and have then decided to start treatment for it," said Esther Jakobert, project manager at L'Ilot.

"We have people that have been homeless, but they just need a bit of help to find a home. They have almost all the documentation needed, but need some help to finalise the administrative procedures, namely to be registered in a social housing agency, for example.”

And this is just one of the organisations partnering with Brussels' public agency for homeless assistance, Bruss'Help.

Currently, nine hoteliers have transferred the management of their businesses over to these institutions, in exchange for compensation.

But this is just a quick fix to a structural problem that will likely be aggravated by the recession according to François Bertrand, director of Bruss'Help.

"A lot of people are falling into a situation of considerable poverty, with some finding themselves homeless because they have no income," he said.

"Now, the big challenge in the long term is, after the COVID crisis eventually ends, to find more permanent solutions for all the people in need and that demands quite a big mobilisation of apartments and little studios, so we are already working on that during this crisis."