The Housing First model has been tested since 2013 in Belgium, led by the Housing First Lab established by the PPS Social Integration. After an initial test phase, 25 Housing First projects are up and running all around Belgium in 2022.
In 2012 the Belgian government published the Anti-Poverty plan which laid the ground for the establishment of Housing First around Belgium. These favourable conditions led to public and private actors in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège to concretely test Housing First practices.
The first testing phase took place from 2013 until 2016 in three medium-sized cities: Hasselt, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek and Namur. The results of the pilot project showed that 86% of the people places in Housing First projects following the core principles were still housed after the three-year testing phase ended. This testing phase therefore proved to be successful and as a result, 25 Housing First projects are established in Belgium (as of 2022). In addition to that, the Housing First Belgium-LAB got established, which is a public structure that provides support and technical assistance to the Housing First services in Belgium.
“For me, Housing First is about dignity. By offering people back a home that is really theirs, you give them so much more: freedom and autonomy, life chances, future, happiness”Geert has been the Dutch coordinator of the Housing First Lab since 2018. He lives in Kortrijk, is married and has three grown-up children, who are gradually leaving home. He enjoys travelling, long walks and board games. Geert is a trained social worker and had 15 years of experience within the local OCMW operation where he was responsible for the reception and guidance of homeless people. From this work, he got to know the ideas of Housing First. Later in life, he started university studies in social work at Ghent University.
Muriel is a Psychologist with 10 years of experience in Harm Reduction. She has been a Housing First Manager since 2013 – including ACT + ICM team management – and has rehoused more than 50 clients to date. As a Housing First trainer, Muriel shares her expertise in Harm Reduction, Recovery, Peer work, Crises management, and Violence.
Peter started to work in youth and young adult care in the nineties, being focused on youth at risk of becoming homeless or young adults being homeless. At the time some of his older colleagues advised him to lower his expectations as to what could be achieved. He continued working, and 10 years later, caught himself being that older colleague telling the younger ones to ‘not put their hopes up too high’. After he discovered the Housing First approach, he learnt that his initial hopes of achieving positive outcomes for homeless youth could be realised, and became a Housing First trainer.
Since the beginning of my career as a social worker I loved working with people suffering homelesness. I started working in day shelter for homless people during my studies in 2010 untill 2013 combined with working in the crisis shelter and night shelter in the city of Ghent. In 2013 I started my job as a Housing First support worker for the public welfare of Ghent, this project was part of the belgian Housing First project, funded by the belgian governement. When this project and research came to an end in 2016, I was asked by SAM VZW to assist in the flemish housing first training to provide insights from my daily practice. My interest in Housing first kept growing and I decided to follow the housing first train-the-trainer course, organised by the Housing First Europe hub. A bit later followed by the Outreach! course, organized by SAM Vzw Belgium. At the moment I still work as a Housing first support worker for the city of Ghent and I provide the Housing First and Outreach! courses for the flemish region and the Outreach! course as a freelance trainer commissioned by SAM vzw Belgium.
Rémi has 20 years of experience working in the social sector, with experience in a wide range of social and homeless services, including:
- Social Worker since 2000
- Social Housing 2000
- First Line social services 2002-2005
- Family Planning 2005-2016
- Therapeutical community 2013-2018
- Social school teacher 2016-2018
- Health services for drug addictions 2018- now
- Housing First worker 2018-now
- Housing First Trainer: 2019- now
Development of associative project for more than 20 years. I have worked in the fields of culture, politics, sport/leisure and real estate. Investing 100% in HF4Y projects since 2021.