The French Prime Minister has announced a bill giving the homeless a legal right to demand a place to live. The statement came as housing activists continued a campaign to raise public awareness of homelessness, pitching tents in cities across the country. Dominique de Villepin said the new bill elevates the right to housing in France to the same level of importance as the right to education and health care:
“This problem should not occur in a great democracy like ours. The misery of the homeless is not just a matter of money, it’s a matter of human dignity. It debases us all,” the Prime Minister said.
The bill would allow those who cannot find accomodation to seek legal redress from a public authority.
Jean-Louis Borlo, the Minister for Social Cohesian said: “There is a national consensus on this issue. The state will be the legal guarantor of this right. It will guarantee this right, just as it does education.”
A government spokesman said parliament would debate the bill before the end of February. There may be considerable support for the measure.
Since December, people of all walks of life have taken part in the protest, sleeping in tents, in solidarity with the homeless.
Homelessness in France is relatively low. Close to ninety thousand people sleep rough each night. But it seems for the government even that number is too high.