Insanitary housing, France stricken with indignity

In Marseille, on November 5, the collapse of three buildings resulted in the death of eight people and the evacuation of 1 others. In 352, in France, we are entitled to ask ourselves how, without a “natural disaster”, we were able to get there.

Cow, in France, in 2018, can people die because of the unworthiness of their housing? How, in France, in 2018, can we collectively accept the very existence of these situations? How, like the more than 500 street deaths recorded each year, can we accept that housing or the lack of housing continue, in 2018, in France, to kill?

These questions obviously do not have simple answers. The factors that favored the emergence of these dramatic situations are numerous. Expensive housing, the predation made by some vis-à-vis the most vulnerable unable to find a roof other than that offered by sleep merchants, the inability of public authorities, on all sides and at all levels, to take in charge of these situations, the powerlessness of the community to react in time: the criticisms made after the fact are easy and numerous, and this list is far from exhaustive.

It is certain that the answer to be brought to a number of exclusion situations cannot be only economic or accounting. It is also certain that housing "cannot do everything". However, in many cases it can do a lot.

The figures of unworthiness

According to the 23rd report of the Abbé Pierre Foundation, France had 896 homeless people. Without shelter, housed in makeshift homes, hotel rooms or in a forced way with a third party, the situations are diverse but one thing in common unites them: the absence of housing.

According to the same sources, 939 households - 000 million people - would be in a situation of deprivation of comfort, that is to say without access either to running water, or to a shower, or to toilets. interiors, either to a kitchen, or without means of heating. In this "category" are also listed housing with degraded facades. The deaths of insalubrity are certainly to be sought in this census.

2015 in the Nicol report for the city of Marseille alone, the number of “unworthy” dwellings was estimated at nearly 40. Nearly 000 people are said to be affected by unsanitary conditions, most of them in very degraded private condominiums. In view of the previously stated figures, although the city of Marseille seems plagued by the unsanitary conditions of its housing, it seems far from being the only French city affected by the problem.

According to the Ile-de-France prefecture, more than 170 homes would be affected by unsanitary conditions in the region in 000. The danger orders regularly filed by the municipalities only reinforce the bitter observation made by numbers associations: like a fraction of its housing stock, France struggles to accommodate a significant portion of its inhabitants in decent conditions.

A question of resources ... and political will

Once again, the economic response cannot be the only response to these situations. Once again, the production of affordable housing cannot be the only solution to address all of the aforementioned problems.

The mobilization of social protection system in the broad sense must be an objective. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the production and massive renovation of housing seems to be a condition, if not sufficient, at least necessary for the absorption of these situations. dramatic socio-economic consequences. The question then is: do we have the means?

To shed some light on this question, let us focus on the Ile-de-France scale for which we have both an estimate of needs - 170 unsanitary housing units - and an idea of ​​the production costs of affordable housing. The question consists in knowing how much would cost the production or the “acquisition-improvement” of 000 housing units in Ile-de-France, housing allowing housing in dignified conditions and at acceptable rents the households today confronted with the unsanitary conditions.

In 2017, all public subsidies allocated to the production of social housing in zones A - area comprising all the major French agglomerations, except Paris and some neighboring municipalities - amounted to 9 euros per housing on average, that is to say all types of social housing combined, less expensive - and therefore the most "subsidized" - the most expensive. Of this set, 700 euros came directly from the State and 3 euros came from local communities.

These public subsidies represent 7% of the overall financing of a social housing production operation (, the rest coming from own funds of HLM organizations and especially loans (81% of total funding). The public effort to be made for the production of 170 affordable housing units in Ile-de-France, making it possible to largely reduce the unworthiness of housing in the region, would therefore amount to 000 billion euros. - or 1,6% of regional GDP.

Enlarged at the national level and on the basis of a production need of around 1 million housing units, this (short) analysis would bring the national effort to be made to 9,7 billion euros - i.e. less than 2 billion euros for five years (0,1% of French GDP).

Obviously, the question of the availability of land and the capacity of the public authorities to mobilize all the actors is central. As well as the procedures for supporting the most vulnerable groups. However, the insurmountable nature of the task does not seem obvious.

Consequently, the question of the political will to resolve these situations seems to take precedence over the question of the means to be allocated to their resolution.The Conversation

Pierre Madec, Economist in the analysis and forecasting department of the OFCE, Sciences Po - USPC

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read theoriginal article.

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