There has been a cautious welcome in France to news of government plans to tackle homelessness. “The Children of Don Quixote” said they would wind up their tent encampments only as and when the issues they highlighted were dealt with. The lobby group has pushed housing to the top of the political agenda four months ahead of France’s presidential election – but some remain in doubt: “Personally, I won’t budge until I have an official document proving I have an address. Because for so long, all we have heard is promises,” said one homeless woman in Paris. “Yeah, that is all the politicians do. Promises, promises. Before we see official proof, we won’t go,” a male protester added.
The campaign has pressured the government into announcing a series of measures to help the homeless and the poorly housed. “This plan took a lot of effort. We needed all the partners to agree because it is not just the state, it is everybody’s work. But finally this project was approved today with full financial backing,” said Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.
The action began in Paris before Christmas when dozens of red tents were erected. It quickly spread to other French cities. The proposals include an increase in hostel places and the social housing allocation along with a reduction in associated red tape. Ministers will also vote on a law making access to affordable accommodation a legal right.