The Night of Solidarity: A census operation of the homeless to better understand their needs

On the night of Thursday January 20 to Friday January 21, a census of people on the street will take place. Launched in France in 2018 by the city of Paris, this initiative takes on a national scale this year and will concern 27 municipalities. 

Inspired by initiatives that have existed for many years in several American and European cities, the “Solidarity Night” was launched in France in 2018 by the city of Paris.

During this annual operation, hundreds of volunteers and social workers crisscross the city to count people on the street and "better understand" their needs, "in order to best adapt emergency and social measures", explains the capital municipality. On March 25, 2021, 2.829 homeless people had been identified.

This year, for the first time, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee), responsible for the census on behalf of the State, will "pool" its efforts with the 27 cities mobilized for this operation which will will take place on the night of Thursday 20 to Friday 21 January.

In addition to Paris and around ten towns in its suburbs, the operation will also take place in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rennes, Montpellier, Metz, Mulhouse, Dijon, Tours, Rouen, Arras, Brest, Dunkirk, Lorient, Quimper and Saint-Étienne, said the National Union of Communal Centers for Social Action (UNCCAS).

according to a guide created by the government as part of this initiative, this census makes it possible to have a "detailed knowledge of the homeless people of a territory and their needs" in order to" produce locally a global offer of accommodation, services and access to housing which is not the declension of a single model but which is the response to needs identified and characterized locally”.

The “Solidarity Night” must also make it possible to “measure the impact of the health crisis on precarious populations”, underlined UNCCAS.

All citizens over the age of 18 can register for participate voluntarily to this operation.

Camille Westphal Perrier (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / Birute Vijeikiene

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