Paleizenstraat Nuisance: Residents Speak Out

Fights, night noise, litter and the police at the door every day. The local residents around the squat in the Schaarbeekse Paleizenstraat are thoroughly fed up with the nuisance. They contacted the municipality several times, but were not heard. “The building now looks more like a war zone.”
“I was working at my desk and suddenly I saw that a naked man wanted to jump out of the window. The children of my neighbors have also seen that and are traumatized.” Samuel* lives in the apartment building opposite the office building in the Paleizenstraat that has been squatted for months by hundreds of asylum seekers, homeless people and undocumented migrants, and saw how one of the squatters threatened to jump from the seventh floor on Sunday afternoon. It is one of many incidents that local residents have witnessed in recent months.
“Every day I can make videos of fights. The police are at your door every day. The building now looks more like a war zone,” says Samuel. “The street is regularly closed off, so we cannot go to work or drop off the children. There is also a lot of noise, constant shouting. And every day glass and other waste is thrown on the street. Every few days there are hundreds of garbage bags on the street.”
The local resident emphasizes that he shows understanding for the appalling conditions in which the squatters have been living for months. “We have to find a solution for these people, but in the meantime it has also become unlivable for the people in the area,” the man continues. “I don’t want to tar everyone with the same brush – it’s not the case that all residents cause nuisance – but there is something every day. There is a general sense of insecurity. There was a fire last time. This is really getting out of hand.”
Schaerbeek: ‘We Are Doing Our Best

The inhabitant of Schaarbeek has already written to the cabinet of his mayor, Cécile Jodogne (Défi), several times to denounce the nuisance, but has not yet received any response. There is a feeling that the various authorities involved – municipality, region and federal – are continuously passing the hot potato on. “We don’t feel heard. We are tired of no one taking responsibility. We need to find a solution for these people.”
The mayor himself says he understands the complaints. “People in the neighborhood are starting to get scared. A squat of that size simply causes a lot of nuisance,” says Jodogne’s head of cabinet Marc Weber. “The municipality intervenes where possible. We deploy social workers and the community watch and the police intervene daily.”
“We are doing our best and understanding the local residents, but as we have said in the past, the solution is not that simple. At every meeting, we emphasize that the other levels, regional and federal, must also assume their responsibilities.”

The municipality also meets regularly with the Region and the cabinet of Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor (CD&V). They previously agreed that Samusocial and Fedasil would identify the occupants of the squat. This is important, because not all residents fall under the same powers. Homeless people come under the jurisdiction of the Brussels Region, asylum seekers under that of the Moor.
The identification process started last Thursday. Of the 369 residents who were screened that day, 368 people are asylum seekers. They must receive shelter through Fedasil, although there has been a lack of shelter places for months. It is not yet clear what the situation of the other residents of the squat is.
In total, an estimated 800 to 1,000 people would stay there. The identification process is still ongoing and should end this week. “Only then will we be able to discuss with the cabinet of State Secretary De Moor, Mayor Jodogne and Minister Maron what should happen to any people who might still be staying there,” said Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort (PS) there last Friday. during the plenary session of the Brussels Parliament.
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