Number of homeless people in France doubles in 10 years


People who are homeless or in precarious housing are increasingly numerous and vulnerable to inflation in France, warns the Abbé Pierre Foundation in its annual report presented this Wednesday (1st).

The study criticizes the government’s insufficient efforts to remedy the challenge. Women and LGBTQIA+ people suffer the most.

The Foundation estimates the number of homeless people in the country at 330,000 —30,000 more than the previous year and an increase of about 130% compared to 2012, the date of the last study on this subject carried out by the National Institute of Statistics.

But the director of studies at the foundation, Manuel Domergue, estimates that this number could be even higher. In total, 4.15 million people live in precarious conditions, calculates the foundation, which includes in this category those who live in places too small for them or deprived of basic comforts – such as kitchen, bathroom, heating.

The precarious housing category, which includes situations such as energy insecurity or tenants with overdue bills, comprises 12.1 million people, or more than a sixth of the French population.

Precariousness and gender

The foundation focused on the specific vulnerabilities faced by women and LGBTQIA+ people. They run the risk, reveals the study, of falling into precarious housing at four times in their lives: when leaving their parents’ home, after marital separation, inheritance and widowhood.

Inflation, which accelerated significantly in 2022, puts low-income households in difficulty by increasing their housing, transportation and food costs, the foundation notes.

A person with a minimum income or a single parent family can find themselves “in the red” or eating leftovers to live, simply paying everyday expenses, explains the study, which calculated the types of family budget in several municipalities.

government inaction

As in previous years, the foundation criticizes the government, considering that 2022 was “a year that went blank or almost in the fight against precarious housing”.

“Rarely has the gap appeared so wide between, on the one hand, the state of substandard housing and, on the other hand, the inadequacy of public responses to make housing affordable.”

The aid distributed to mitigate the impact of inflation is not, according to the study, sufficiently targeted. Aid for housing renovation, whose budget was increased in 2023, is considered insufficient because it finances few renovations.

“Against the poor”

The “public effort for housing”, which brings together government aid to people and production, represented in 2021 only 1.5% of French GDP, a figure that had not been so low since at least 1991.

The control of the value of rents and the fight against seasonal rentals of the Airbnb type are still very timid, according to the foundation.

The State sometimes makes policies “against the poor”, says the organization, targeting unemployment insurance reform, which aims to reduce the duration of indemnities, or the bill against people who camp in empty or abandoned properties, recently examined by the Senate.

On the more urgent front, if the government has given up on eliminating vacancies in emergency accommodation, “the very fact that it has considered reducing them is a very worrying sign”, points out Christophe Robert.

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