To qualify for social housing – subsidised housing often offered by housing associations linked to the municipal authority – you have to meet certain conditions.
Flemish Housing Minister Liesbeth Homans has now signalled a change in approach. Until now tenants were supposed to show that they were willing to learn Dutch. In future they will have to show a result.
Ms Homans underlines that a smattering of Dutch is necessary if you live in social housing. It is required to ensure social cohesion and that people who live together in the same building can understand each other.
“We’re really not demanding that people are able to read Hugo Claus (=an author famous in Flanders). We just want people to be able to ask neighbours on which day of the week they can put out their rubbish.”
The Dutch Language House will be charged with establishing whether people speak Dutch or not.
The Housing Minister denies it’s the government’s intention to evict people or refuse them access to social housing: “That’s against Belgium’s Basic Law!”
The requirements apply to all including Francophones. Only the illiterate or people with medical problems are excused. People who don’t comply can be fined up to EUR 5,000.
Flandersnews.be / Expatica