Ukrainian refugees: temporary accommodation projects continue to take shape in the Brussels Region!
The Brussels Regional Working Group, which has been working on the search for and creation of temporary accommodation solutions for Ukrainian refugees, is seeing results: five collective accommodation centres have been opened to date in the Brussels Region, accommodating a total of 318 people. At the end of October, four new buildings will open, increasing the total accommodation capacity in the Region to 556 beds. After all the work is completed in 2022, a total of 1600 people will be able to be temporarily housed by the end of December.
At the beginning of September, 8,500 Ukrainians with temporary protection status were registered in Brussels. New arrivals are expected by the end of the year and the Region is relying on CELEVAL to assess the exact number. After the emergency reception, the integration of people requires support towards the most sustainable accommodation possible, access to health, employment and education. The Brussels regional working groups have established and implemented structured actions in all these areas and also rely on numerous private, associative and community partners to carry out their missions. Ukrainian refugees themselves have been involved throughout the development and implementation of the strategy.
If the supply of accommodation on the market can gradually meet the needs of some of the arrivals, the solidarity shown by the many Brussels residents who have welcomed and still welcome Ukrainian refugees in their homes has been essential, while the regional institutions analysed all the possible ways of creating accommodation (hotels, offices, collective facilities, etc.) and the Communes, supported by the Brussels Region and in particular by the Brussels help services, tried to accompany the host citizens and the people accommodated.
In this context, the regional platform "BeMyGuest" was created by the Region, allowing citizens to enter their accommodation offers and the municipalities to match these offers with an accommodation demand. In addition, to support this solidarity, the Region has structured legal tools (standardised temporary accommodation agreement, cohabitation charter, toll-free number, etc.) and provided a framework for the financial contributions of the lodgers.
Now, after a few months of hard work, the regional working group mobilised on the search for and creation of temporary accommodation solutions is gradually seeing results: in terms of collective accommodation, five collective accommodation centres have opened their doors to date in the Brussels Region, accommodating 318 people. These are four hotels and a converted office building, whose capacity is being increased.
By the end of October, four new buildings will open, increasing the total accommodation capacity in the Region to 556 beds. By the end of December 2022, the work currently underway should provide accommodation for a total of 1600 people, some of whom will be housed in one of the 150 temporary accommodation modules planned by the working group.
The Brussels public institutions involved in the creation of housing (SLRB, Citydev.brussels, SAU, Urban, SPRB and BMA) were strongly involved in the production of this number of accommodation places, and the success of the project depends on the continuation of the collaborations set up so far, in particular between the public institutions and the private sector.
The same working group has also enabled a slightly more atypical project to open its doors at the beginning of October, in a building made available by the developer Alides. This is a temporary community centre with the particularity of complementing the collective accommodation being created with community spaces managed by the refugees themselves and which are oriented towards Dissemination of useful information for refugees, listening and referral to specialised services in the region, identification of specific needs and support in navigating the various administrations thanks to mobile refugee teams, learning French and Dutch, mentoring for Ukrainian students in difficulty, advice for parents, single mothers and women, and adolescents in difficulty. The centre also offers free multi-purpose rooms for social events initiated by community members. The centre is run by the Ukrainian Voices Refugee Committee.
Alides is also providing the regional working group with a building that will be able to house around 100 people by December 2022.
Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of Brussels:
"I am delighted with the solidarity shown by the people of Brussels in this unprecedented and difficult context for the reception of Ukrainian nationals. I would like to emphasise that the mobilisation that has been put in place at the level of temporary occupancy is crucial in the management of this crisis and exemplary in many respects. Let us hope that the fruitful partnerships that have been set up with the private sector for this purpose augur well for other beneficial projects for the Region and its inhabitants in the future.
Jonas Hatem, Ukraine coordination for the Brussels government:
"The approach of Brussels helps Ukraine is very innovative. The use of empty buildings and land, or land awaiting redevelopment, has several beneficial effects: it avoids real estate vacancy and the nuisances that can follow in terms of management for the public authorities as well as for the real estate actors involved. But it also makes it possible, in the context of the management of this humanitarian crisis, to offer temporary accommodation and support solutions for Ukrainian refugees, with a view to their integration into the fabric of Brussels.
Rikkert Leeman, CEO of Alides:
"Human beings and their well-being are at the heart of Alides' values and are at the forefront of all our initiatives. The Brussels Region faces particular challenges and as a property developer it is also partly our role to understand and respond to these by developing projects that make sense in a sustainable way for future users and residents. Making the Avenue Montoyer building available to the Ukrainian refugee reception services fits perfectly into this mission.
Alphonse Munyaneza, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
"For UNHCR, it is clear that the unprecedented level of participation of Ukrainian refugees and their community structures in the Brussels Region's operational response is an innovative and pioneering element in Europe. This concrete and close involvement has undoubtedly improved the quality of the response and the quality of the dialogue around the planning, implementation and real-time reassessment of this response. UNHCR congratulates the Brussels Region for its efforts and encourages it to continue this approach which accelerates integration mechanisms and which, from the outset, calls on refugees to be the primary driver of their integration.