Hanane Kostet of Al Hanaan Hands has been looking for a new location for a year to distribute hot meals to the homeless.  PVDA Antwerp raises serious questions about the way in which the city deals with the aid organization.
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Hanane Kostet of Al Hanaan Hands has been looking for a new location for a year to distribute hot meals to the homeless. PVDA Antwerp raises serious questions about the way in which the city deals with the aid organization. © Dirk Kerstens

PVDA Antwerp questions the way in which the Antwerp city council is dealing with Al Hanaan Hands, the organization that is looking for a new location for food distribution to the homeless. “Instead of embracing this organization, it seems that the city council sees them as a nuisance and prefers to keep them out of the center and out of sight,” says Ben Van Duppen, spokesperson for PVDA Antwerp.

Hanane Kostet has distributed a hundred hot meals to the homeless every Friday evening from the underground car park under Astridplein for five years. In November last year that came to an end by order of the police. Because of the suction effect, the food distribution would cause nuisance. Attempts to find a new location together with the city services failed. Hanane Kostet sounded the alarm in Gazet van Antwerpen.

Read also:Borgerhoutse has been waiting for a new location for food distribution for years: “I want to help the homeless, that’s all”

“The proposal of alderman Tom Meeuws to keep the food distribution on Astridplein is not serious, certainly not in inclement weather conditions,” said Ben Van Duppen, spokesperson for PVDA Antwerp and Borgerhout’s district alderman for poverty alleviation. “It can’t be that difficult to offer them a decent, sheltered location. The organization does not even ask for financial support. They just want to keep doing what they’ve been doing for years: helping people. I hope the city takes this signal seriously and finally looks for a real solution.”

Ben Van Duppen acknowledges that there are sometimes tensions in the public domain, but asks the city to deal with this in a mature way. “A week ago a beautiful mural was installed in the same parking lot of the Central Station, in honor of the two homeless young men Mike and Wesley who died there a year ago. A poem has been dedicated to all homeless people at the memorial to ask respect for them and not to forget them. Aldermen Meeuws would be better off drawing inspiration from that.” kvh

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