The housing crisis can be seen particularly through what we call in statistics the "effort rate". This is the percentage of household income spent on the main home. Among young tenant households under the age of thirty, among whom are often students, it would reach more than 60% according to a information report of the National Assembly while it is on average 23% for the entire population.
Even taking into account aid, this rate remains twice as high as that of the entire population of the National Assembly of December 2021 on housing and the precariousness of students, apprentices and young workers. It was measured at 22% for 18-25 year olds, 18,5% for 25-29 year olds and 10,3% for the general population.
The current real estate crisis, marked by a slowdown in transactions due in particular to an increase in the cost of credit, in reality masks a broader crisis of access to housing, of which the youngest are today the first victims. The difficulties of “18-29 year olds”, that is to say more than 9,2 million people in 2021, 14% of the French population, are certainly not new but rental tension today seems to be reaching its peak: it is no longer enough to have a job to hope to find and access housing.
Supply does not follow demand
This is as much a crisis of demand as it is a crisis of supply. On the demand side, young tenants have less and less means of housing. Apart from the effort rate cited above, this age group of the population remains marked by fragility, partly structural due to the delay between the end of studies and the first job: unemployment concerns more than 15% of 15-24 year olds (compared to 8,5% for the general population) in 2023. In addition, the majority of young people are facing a job market which is not favorable to them and which has deteriorated: 12,9% of 15-29 years (17,8% for 25-29 year olds) were neither in employment, nor in study or training in 2021.
Housing for young people (students or young working people in particular) has remained a recurring problem in France for a long time. While the social park was originally designed to accommodate young households, the drop in turnover rate and the aging of the occupying population are now limiting its access to younger people, leading them to default to the much more expensive private rental stock.
Thus, the social housing stock records a significant and long-term reduction in tenants under 30 years old, going from 24 to 8% between 1984 and 2013, in particular for the benefit of those over 65 who are, on the contrary, more and more likely to find a place there. We observe an increase of 7 points among holders of social leases (22% in 2013) belonging to this age group and of 10 points among those aged 50-64 (30% in 2013) over the same period.
Today, the first accommodation of a young person in transition is mainly rental accommodation in the private sector, with the social sector offering few places for new generations. In 2020, INSEE identified around 72% tenants among households under 25 years of age in the private rental stock (compared to 22% for the general population) almost mainly small-sized housing in high demand and increasingly rare and expensive and between 16 and 20% in the social stock ( 17% for the general population). For young people under 25, this ratio regarding private rentals increased very sharply, going successively from 57% in 2013 to more than 72% in 2020.
The crisis linked to tensions on purchasing power on the demand side is thus coupled with a supply crisis, linked to an insufficient number of housing units. This trend is even more marked for the student population. According to the Observatory of Student Life (OVE), the expanded offer of accommodation for students actually only met the needs of 18% of those not living with their parents in 2019.
The Crous, in particular, the historical operator of the State, welcoming with rent ceilings students subject to resource ceilings and with priority on scholarships, accommodated 35% of the 215 students in the 000s (a larger denominator than that cited previously because it includes students staying with their parents: they are 32% in this case today). These residences can, in 2019, only accommodate 25% of state scholarship holders.
Furthermore, social residences for approved young workers – which respond to the challenges of precariousness and professional mobility of young people (in particular social residences and homes for young workers, young workers' residences) – do not satisfy according to the Professional Union of Supported Housing (Unafo) that too small a share of the request expressed and can only address the most vulnerable people.
The phenomenon concerns both the Île-de-France region, which concentrates 26% of the student population (733 students including 000 in Paris), but also today all other regions and in particular metropolises and medium-sized towns. Thus, at Lyon and Rennes, there are more than four requests for an offer while the rental market for small spaces remains tense and often escapes rent control services for student residences.
The State wants to accelerate the pace
In the social housing stock, and in continuation of the “60 student housing plan” launched in 000, the social landlords have been trying for some time to strengthen the provision of housing for young people (social residences, hostels for young workers or university residences under direct or indirect management). More recently, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced a action plan to encourage the construction of housing, particularly for students, through a social housing recovery plan.
The situation nevertheless remains very critical and complex in the private rental stock, a consequence of the financialization of real estate observed for two decades which has led to a surge in property prices, sustained by a period of low interest rates, and rents disconnected from household income. The numerous tax measures, developed for more than a decade, particularly in favor of rental investment in LMNP (non-professional furnished rental companies), have mainly reoriented the private residential stock towards a rental offer of small, short-term furnished apartments. These are also not subject to rent control, offering comparatively much higher rates of return, unbalancing and structurally depleting the residential rental stock, particularly in university and tourist towns.
The very attractive rental investment system in LMNP is in the process of falling back on the niche market of housing for students and young workers while the crisis in offices and housing for ownership threatens the real estate activity of promoters. Several real estate programs of private student serviced residences and residences of coliving non-agreed, rented under LMNP status, or not, see the light of day. If they provide a partial response to the request and the office crisis post-Covid, they nevertheless paradoxically contribute to reinforcing the housing crisis for the most deprived, in a context of severe shortage and overbidding of land. In many cases, this compromises the development and economic feasibility of the public offer of approved housing dedicated to young people.
The author would like to thank Tommy Veyrat, Director of URHAJ Île-de-France and Nicolas Delesque, Universités & Territoires, for their contributions to the reflection and documentation of this article.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of InfoChrétienne.