Census of homeless people in Belgium


Census of homeless people in Belgium

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

Belgium, in alignment with the Lisbon Declaration of June 2021, is committed to tackling homelessness by 2030, emphasizing the importance of data-driven strategies. The King Baudouin Foundation, along with research teams and local authorities, has developed a standardized methodology for counting homeless individuals, spanning urban and rural areas. Initial findings surpassed expectations, totaling over 16,000 individuals. The data informs annual reports accessible to all, while qualitative interviews aim to deepen understanding and inform effective solutions.


  • 2020: Implementation


  • King Baudouin Foundation
  • LUCAS KULeuven


Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Leuven


In June 2021, Belgium endorsed the Lisbon Declaration, pledging to address homelessness by 2030 through systemic measures. A key aspect highlighted in the Declaration is the necessity for these measures to be grounded in accurate data to effectively guide policymakers.

Since 2020, the King Baudouin Foundation has been actively involved in collaboration with research teams from UCLouvain and LUCAS KULeuven, along with over 100 local authorities, in devising a standardized methodology for counting individuals experiencing homelessness in Wallonia and Flanders. The Foundation aims to extend this methodology nationwide to ensure consistent and recurrent counts across Belgium. The Netherlands has also expressed interest in this approach, which was successfully piloted there earlier this year.

The initial census took place in Leuven and subsequently expanded to Limburg, Ghent, Arlon, and Liège. This methodology goes beyond merely tallying individuals sleeping on the streets; it encompasses the entire spectrum of homelessness classifications outlined in ETHOS Light. This broader approach considers individuals residing in institutions, unconventional dwellings, or temporary accommodations with family, friends, or acquaintances. Thus, the census delves deeper than surface-level assessments.

In 2022, efforts were made to extend the census beyond urban centers to encompass rural areas as well. In Flanders, six zones were involved: Boom-Mechelen-Lier, Bruges Arrondissement, Midwest, Middenkust, Kempen Zorgregio, and Waasland. Counts were also conducted in the German-speaking Community, Tournai, and Walloon Brabant. The combined tally from these areas exceeded 16,000 unhoused and homeless individuals, surpassing initial expectations. However, this data now provides a basis for informed action.

The findings are published annually in a comprehensive report accessible to any interested administration or individual citizen. Moreover, the census team is now conducting interviews to gain insights into the pathways to homelessness. This qualitative approach aims to inform the development of innovative solutions.