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Homelessness and poor quality of living is on the rise in France

Homelessness is on the rise in France amidst increasing cost of living
Homelessness is on the rise in France amidst increasing cost of living Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AFP
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The new report will be presented to the government today.

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Homelessness and those living in poor conditions is on the rise in France, the Abbé Pierre Foundation (FAP) has warned.

In its annual report presented on Wednesday, the foundation estimates the number of homeless people in France at 330,000. 

That's 30,000 more than the previous year, and an increase of about 130 per cent compared to 2012, the date of the last INSEE study on this subject.

The report also tackles the government and the “insufficiency” of its efforts to remedy the issue.

"It's still a fairly conservative estimate," said the foundation's director of studies, Manuel Domergue.

In total, 4.15 million people are living in poor housing conditions, estimates the foundation, which includes people without personal accommodation, those living in a place far too small for them, or deprived of basic comforts (kitchen, toilets, heating). 

The "halo" of poor housing, which includes situations such as fuel poverty or tenants with unpaid bills, concerns 12.1 million people, according to calculations by the FAP, or more than a sixth of the population.

This year, in a chapter entitled "The gender of poor housing", the FAP looked at the specific vulnerabilities suffered by women and LGBT+ people.

They are at risk, the study reveals, of falling into poor housing at four points in life: leaving the family home, marital separation, inheritance and widowhood.

Inflation, which has accelerated significantly in 2022, puts low-income households in difficulty by increasing their constrained costs (housing, travel, food), notes the foundation.

For example, a single-parent family, can quickly find themselves in the red simply by paying these increasing expenses, explains the foundation.

As in previous years, the FAP curbs the government, judging that 2022 has been "a blank year or almost in the fight against poor housing".

"The gap has rarely seemed so wide between, on the one hand, the state of poor housing and, on the other hand, the insufficiency of public responses to make housing affordable".

The aid distributed to mitigate the impact of inflation, such as the tariff shield, is not, according to the report, sufficiently targetted. 

Aid for the renovation of MaPrimeRénov' housing, the envelope of which was increased in the 2023 budget, is deemed insufficient because it finances few efficient renovations and leaves the poorest with an insurmountable burden.

"For the richest, on the one hand, permanent, massive measures; for the poorest, on the other hand, one-off measures", was indignant the general delegate of the foundation, Christophe Robert.

The "public effort for housing", bringing together aid for people and production, in 2021 only represented 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product, a figure which has not been so low since at least 1991, says the FAP.

The control of rents, and the fight against Airbnb-type seasonal rentals, are still too timid, it adds. 

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Regarding social housing, the savings measures of Emmanuel Macron's first five-year term have been maintained, despite the rise in the Livret A rate which has increased the debt of social landlords.

The state even conducts policies "sometimes against the poor", asserts the Foundation, citing the reform of unemployment insurance, which aims to reduce the duration of compensation, or the anti-squatters bill.

On the most urgent front, if the government has given up on eliminating places in emergency accommodation, "the very fact that it has considered reducing them is for us a rather worrying signal", judged Christophe Robert.

On Wednesday, during the official presentation of the report at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris, the Minister Delegate for the City and Housing, Olivier Klein, is expected to respond to criticism and to present the new 'Housing First' plan, which aims to facilitate the return to housing of homeless people.

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