2007-01-05 Sarah Elzas
Listen to the report >>

The housing crisis In France is emerging as one of the Presidential campaign’s top priorities

The Children of Don Quixote set up hundreds of red tents for homeless peopleThe Children of Don Quixote set up hundreds of red tents for homeless people
Homeless people and their supporters have set up hundreds of red tents in the centre of Paris, a visual and provocative way, of putting the plight of the homeless, into the spotlight.

And it’s working……Presidential hopefuls can no longer ignore it, and are being forced to commit themselves. The problem is that campaign pledges on housing, are rarely followed through. Radio France International’s Sarah Elzas, reports on the issue that keeps making the headlines, but never seems to get resolved.

That’s the sound of anticipation: dozens of journalists waiting to hear what Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin had to say about the housing crisis this week:

The government wants to put in place, as quickly as possible, the opposable right—or “legal right” - to housing, says Villepin. Homeless people would be able to sue the authorities to force them to provide accommodation.

"Occupied since December 18, 2006 until better is proposed""Occupied since December 18, 2006 until better is proposed"
The idea is to put the right to housing on the same level as the right to health care and education, explains Villepin. According to the charity Emmaus, there are as many as a million people without fixed housing - 100,000 of them on the street. The housing law comes after an unprecedented street movement has brought public attention on homelessness. The Children of Don Quixote set up hundreds of red tents for homeless people and their supporters along a canal in a trendy part of central Paris. After three weeks, they are still there. Renaud is from the neighborhood, and camped out with the group over the new year:

Obviously, we can’t ask that everyone is taken off the street overnight. But we are asking government to treat each individual with humanity. And that each person who wants to leave the street has a viable proposition. That’s a first point.

Villepin said the mobilizations were an “accelerating” element to the decision to propose this law…

Housing has become THE issue to talk about in this election year. The outgoing government has a legacy to leave behind, which Francois Hollande, the socialist Party Secretary, pointed out critically. He said the government is “clearing its conscience on the cheap”— proposing a law they will not have to administer. Talking about housing isn’t new. In a 1995 presidential campaign speech, Jacques Chirac promised “housing for all”. Nearly 12 years later, he is still talking about the same thing. In this year’s annual new year address, he asked for a quick government response to make the right to housing a reality.

Housing studies have been commissioned before. In the past few years, Socialist MPs twice introduced the concept a right to housing. In 2000, the Solidarity and Renewal Law- called SRU- applied a quota of social housing on local governments- Towns must have at least 20 percent of social hosing by 2020. The problem is that communities are accepting fines from developers instead of the required housing units. So will yet another study and another law actually fix the problem? We’ll see. The latest proposal will be presented to the cabinet on January 17, and may be voted on before parliament breaks in April. If it’s passed, the right will become legally enforceable by 2008 for the homeless, the working poor and single women with children. The right would be fully implemented 4 years later.

Listen to the report:


france, homeless, paris




Real Audio





Also in this issue

Rural house in SicilyAlthough the Sicilian Mafia have stopped the high-profile murders and bloody gang warfare of the 1990s, the organisation still controls large parts of the southern Italian island. But an EU-funded project aims to break the culture, of depending on the mafia for work, by providing legal jobs in the mafia heartlands, south of Palermo. And they are fighting the bosses with their own weapons - by using land confiscated from imprisoned mafia gangsters. Deutsche Welle’s Kate Hairsine reports from Sicily. >>>

The new dominant of Malmö - so called Turning TorsoWorkers from Poland who have move to Western Europe for work often get bad press, particularly in the British Tabloid media. For a change we head to Sweden where apparently Poles have less difficulty integrating. Last year, Poles were among the largest groups of immigrants in Malmö, Sweden's third largest and most ethnically diverse city, located at the very south of the county. The presence of polls in Malmö is not new, but Polish immigration has picked up significantly, since Sweden opened its doors to workers from the countries which joined the EU in 2004. >>>

The Swedish temperance movement has been increasingly concerned, with Western liquor companies and their clever PR advertisements, aiming at new markets in developing countries -- the growing middle class and especially women. In Sweden a new campaign called "Freedom Spirits" aims at reaching both Swedes and consumers abroad, about the dangers of alcohol consumption. ragic observations in many developing countries have noted those armies of poverty-stricken men in the sprawling city slums and in the countryside - spending all of their meagre wages on the local alcoholic brew - instead of on food for the family, badly-needed medicine or school books. But a more recent spotlight has focused on those Western-influenced ad campaigns on highway billboards and in magazines in Africa, Asia and Latin America - designed to capture new consumers with luxury scenes of the rising middle class enjoying expensive, imported spirits -- ads often for the first time including women. As a counter measure, the Swedish temperance movement has been using sophisticated-looking leaflets, brochures and even exhibitions offering free drinks from glamorous bottles of a brand called "Freedom Spirits" - containing no alcohol at all. >>>

A gete in the Terezin concentration camp“Never again”: how many times have we heard that, after genocides, wars and human rights violations…..yet these are still happening. Well let’s zoom in on an original project which is hoping to change this… "So that children know" is the title of an EU-funded project, in the Czech Republic. It’s goal is to teach fourteen and fifteen-year olds about human rights. The idea is not new - what makes it special is that it aims to break with the old practice of memorizing a text; instead it encourages pupils to talk about various aspects of human rights – and takes them to a World War II concentration camp. Radio Prague’s Daniela Lazarova reports. >>>

Network Europe QuizRomania and Bulgaria joined the European Union on the first of January, and on new year’s day, a former member of the eastern block joined the Euro zone. Euro notes and coins are now being used in thirteen countries. We’d like you to give us the name of the new member of the Euro zone. >>>

Latest Programme
The Programme About Us
Programme Archive RSS and Podcasting
Contact Us
Deutsche Welle Deutsche Welle Polish Radio External Service Polish Radio External Service Radio Bulgaria Radio Bulgaria Radio France International Radio France International Radio Netherlands Radio Netherlands Worldwide Radio Prague Radio Prague Radio Romania International Radio Romania International Radio Slovakia International Radio Slovakia International Radio Slovenia International Radio Slovenia International Radio Sweden Radio Sweden