- Public Assistance
- Religious institutions provided the bulk of assistance for the needy in early Brussels in distributing bread and, much less frequently, small sums of money. A number of foundations were established, notably the foundation of Saint-Eloy, by tradition founded about 1000, and those run by the parishes (called "Tables").The number of beggars and vagrants grew and a riot in 1532 drew attention to their plight. By an imperial decree of 3 January 1539, a "Supreme Charity," composed of two members from the lignages and two from the nations, was established to supervise the work of the foundations. An ordinance of 6 July 1588 enjoined beggars to work, and the city created a "house of correction" (Tuchthuys) in 1625 where vagrants and others were compelled to work. Such individuals attempting to enter the city were turned away at the gates. To house the mentally deranged, the magistracy decreed construction of a home (Simpelhuys) on 31 March 1590. It was remodeled in 1741 and 1768, but conditions remained appalling, and remedial efforts were not begun until the end of the 18th century with construction of annexes for the mentally ill at hospitals, notably at Saint Pierre's in 1789.In the early 19th century, assistance for the poor was provided by private organizations — 68 of which were grouped into a mutual aid agency in 1870 under the impetus of Burgomaster Jules Anspach— which serviced the entire metropolitan area. In 1889, the city set up a work exchange, and a committee was created to assist private agencies that supplied social insurance and low-income housing. An intercommunal unemployment fund was established in 1909 and a law of 1925 mandated communal unemployment assistance. A communal unemployment exchange was founded in 1935.The unemployed are required to report twice monthly to a communal office. Job training and employment services are administered by the Brussels Capital Region through the Brussels Regional Office of Employment (Office régiona1 bruxellois de l'Emploi/Brusselse Gewestelijke Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling). Rights to unemployment benefits and distribution of such remain a federal government responsibility as part of the national social security system.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.