Housing shortage blamed for tripled homeless population in France

by | Jun 29, 2022 | World

Paris, France – “Spare some change, Monsieur” is heard in the busy streets of Paris an unsettling number of times. In the brief moments where coins or stares are exchanged, one can often see the worn-out looks of those far too familiar with the realities of street life and sleeping rough.Others show no such signs. Had they not asked for money, it would have been easy to mistake them for tourists simply walking around with their suitcases.
Despite their different appearances, all of these people are tied by the same tragic fate: over the years, they have become the victims of France’s dramatic and ever-growing housing crisis.
It seems astonishing. On paper, Europe’s third largest economy has some of the world’s most comprehensive housing policies.
Shelter is a fundamental right, and French authorities have consistently passed laws to reinforce access to accommodation over the past 30 years.
A homeless person sits with his belongings in a street in Paris [File: Charles Platiau/Reuters]
Since 2007, there is even legislation providing an enforceable right to housing. Known as the “DALO law”, it requires the state to provide a home to any citizen or foreign resident in need.
Practice would say otherwise.
“DALO isn’t effective because politicians don’t play the game,” Fanny Plançon, project manager on emergency shelter and housing at Secours Catholique – an NGO, told Al Jazeera. “The law’s goal is to provide people in need with housing, but this doesn’t always happen.”
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