Bethléem Project (Belgium, 2006-present)

  • The Bethléem Project was launched in 2006 by the Archidiocèse de Malines-Bruxelles to mobilise church property as social housing.

    • Since then, the project has grown and now the Church also operates as an intermediary between low-income renters and landlords who want to rent out their property as social housing.

  • Definition of "empty home" in this project:

    • Unoccupied or underoccupied church property.

  • Summary from the Housing Solutions Platform:

    • Between 2006 and 2016, more than 63 church properties were renovated and converted into social housing in Brussels but also in Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant and Bruges.

    • Bethléem is responsible for houses located in 15 of the 19 different municipalities of the Brussels agglomeration. It enabled several hundreds of vulnerable people to enjoy adequate and affordable quality housing.

    • Project Bethléem allocates unoccupied or underoccupied church properties to low- and modal-income families. This real estate usually belongs to parishes (old parish schools), religious congregations (former convents), individuals (private apartments or houses) or has been bequeathed to the archdiocese.

    • Source: 50 Out-of-the-Box Housing Solutions to Homelessness & Housing Exclusion. By the Housing Solutions Platform (November 2019). Pages 44-45, https://99536665-f232-4d42-aa6c-b165414b34b8.filesusr.com/ugd/bcd9b3_a65c4a5b4a6443619a0edda6edfd198e.pdf

  • Keywords: Brussels, Walloon Brabant, Flemish Brabant, Bruges, Belgium, church, unused, vacant, dwelling, social housing