Country Report: Housing Last updated: 21/04/23


Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen Visit Website

When a person who is staying in a reception centre receives a decision granting a protection status, he or she has the option to:

  • Move to an LRI for a maximum of 2 more months, where he or she will get assistance in finding a place to live, and generally in transitioning to financial assistance if needed. These 2 months can be prolonged for one month, or in exceptional cases for up to 3 months; or
  • Leave the shelter, for example to stay with family or friends. In this case Fedasil will provide him or her with food cheques worth € 120 per child and € 280 per adult. This has to cover the purchase of food for one month, the time limit within which the PCSW has to decide on the granting of financial assistance.

This is specified in internal instructions of Fedasil (see End of the right to reception).[1]

In case the asylum seeker receives a decision granting a protection status while he or she is already staying in an LRI or an individual place of an NGO, the 2-month deadline will be afforded in this place.

Since several years, the outflow of recognised refugees from reception centres is hindered by a shortage in housing supply. According to a press release from Orbit, in august 2022 at least 1,600 recognised refugees were stuck in federal reception centres due to a shortage of housing in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia.[2]

Several civil society organisations describe the current situation as a ‘housing crisis’. There is a not only a shortage in social housing, but there is also a general shortage of qualitative and affordable housing for vulnerable groups. Discrimination also plays an important role in the difficulties that beneficiaries of international protection experience in finding affordable housing.[3] Finding affordable and adequate housing is even more problematic for beneficiaries of international protection that are reunited with their family.[4] To illustrate the extent of this housing crisis in Flanders:

  • At the end of 2021, more than 180,000 families were on the waiting list for social housing in Flanders.[5]
  • 47% of private housing is of insufficient quality.[6]
  • More than 1/3 of the income of 52% of private tenants is dedicated to cover rent expenses.[7]

The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), that monitors whether the provisions of the European Social Charter are observed, expressed particularly critical opinions regarding some elements of the housing policy of Belgium, among other countries. In 2021, 38 Flemish organisations, united in a coalition called the “Woonzaak” that advocates for a fair and just housing policy in Flanders,[8] started a procedure before the ECSR against the Flemish housing policy. This procedure can lead to a condemnation, which is not binding in itself, but can have a positive impact on national legislation, as was the case in France. The complaint was declared admissible on 13 July 2022. A decision is expected in January 2024.[9]

Several civil society organisations and many volunteering groups offer support to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection by helping them to search a place to stay, such as Convivial and Caritas International.

On top of the housing crisis, a new allocation system in social renting applies from 2023. For 80% of allocations, a ‘local tie’ will be required. This means you will be given priority if you have lived continuously in the housing company’s municipality or operating area for at least 5 of the past 10 years. For newcomers, this implies entering the (social) housing market with unequal opportunities. The Council of State was very critical of this new allocation system. It pointed out that a priority scheme with long-term residence ties could be a serious obstacle to free movement and freedom of establishment within the European Union.[10]




[1] Fedasil, Instructions on the transition from material reception to financial assistance: measures for residents of collective centres and the accompaniment in transition in the individual structures, 20 July 2016.

[2] Orbit VZW, Persbericht: minstens 1600 erkende vluchtelingen geblokkeerd in federale en lokale opvang, August 2022, available in Dutch at: http://bit.ly/3GkC6KG.

[3] To find more information on the housing issue (and recommendations) please see: ‘Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, ‘Mensen voorop: de weg naar een echt asielbeleid. Voorstellen voor de verkiezingen 2019: Vlaams-Federaal-Europees, November 2018, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2MNTL0o, 30.

[4] Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen en Orbit VZW, Beleidsnota Gezinshereniging en Wonen, August 2019, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2Rev4ht.

[5] Annual Report Flemish Parliament 2021-2022, available in Dutch at: http://bit.ly/404wewe

[6] Vanderstraeten L. & Ryckewaert M., Grote Woononderzoek 2013. Deel 3. Technische woningkwaliteit, Steunpunt Wonen, March 2015, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/40GZFFF.

[7] Heylen K. & Vanderstraeten L., Wonen in Vlaanderen anno 2018, Steunpunt Wonen, 2019, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/3MdjhNg.

[8] De Woonzaak: https://www.woonzaak.be/.

[9] More information: https://bit.ly/3hYERou.

[10] Huurdersplatform, Lokale binding sinds geboorte, March 2022, available in Dutch at: http://bit.ly/3maMyNY.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation