Brussels - Street nurses

The core objective of the Infirmiers de Rue (street nurses) is the sustainable reinsertion of homeless people into homes in order to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates among these people and improve their feeling of well-being. This means finding stable accommodation for them. Our work on the ground shows that even those who have spent several years living on the streets can find a pathway into stable housing. This reinsertion process consists of various stages such as: raising awareness of the importance of hygiene and health as well as accessing psycho-medic-social help and support which both have the aim of people reconnecting with themselves and gaining in self esteem and self confidence.

Our project began in 2010, upon hiring a social assistant to take charge of creating partnerships with different social housing agencies, care homes, etc, in order to find housing for our patients.

In order to explore other alternatives, we carried out a feasibility study in 2011 and 2012 with the help of four university students in Brussels (from Solvay), a company specialising in social impact (Kois Invest) and other specialists in housing the homeless in New York, Vienna and Amsterdam.

This is how the idea for Housing First first came about. The unique feature of the approach lies in offering, after attending to a patient in the streets, appropriate housing (in Brussels) and in a place where there is also access to medical, psychological and social teams in order to monitor the person regularly and avoid them returning to the streets. A considerable amount of work on self esteem and future prospects is then carried out in the street, whilst putting the administrative formalities in place to ensure that once the patient feels ready, everything else is ready and waiting for them.

Composition of the HF support team
To support 6 tenants: 1.5 FTE in the form of 2 nurses and one social assistant. The team rotates to ensure that the workers are available to the tenants as much as possible.

Type of housing
Primarily private housing managed by Social Estate Agencies. 
But there are also care homes (for older persons or those unable to take care of themselves) and accommodation belonging to not-for-profit associations, created by private investors and managed by a SEA.