In France more and more impressing action against the housing crisis, homelessness and speculation is rising. Our old friends from DAL have organized another spectacular squat in Paris and built the “ministry for housing crisis”. New groups and movements, especially the “children of Don Quichotte” have organized camps with homeless.
Under the conditions of the campaigns for presidents? elections these movements achieved remarkable political reactions within the past days:
The conservative government plans to establish a legally enforceable right to housing,. ? it would be the first in Europe (with the exception of Scotland). The socialist candidate Ms. Royal promises a huge social housing programme, intervention into the markets and even effective requisitions.
The press in France and even in Germany is full of these astonishing news which totally against the main trend in Europe.
May this become a year of a berak through of an “enforcable right to housing” and regulation on spcualtive markets!
Knut Unger (Germany)
Some articles and links (French at the bottom):
Bloomberg January 3, 2007 11:01 EST
Villepin Promises French Housing Right After Homeless Protests
By Emma Vandore and Gabriele Parussini
Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) — French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin introduced a legal right to housing, responding to growing protests over homelessness.
“It’s a principle which puts the right to housing at the same level as the right to health care or education,” de Villepin said in a press conference in Paris today.
Burgeoning lines of red tents have lined the banks of the Canal Saint Martin in central Paris since December as people answered a call by the charity les Enfants de Don Quichotte to leave their homes for a night to show solidarity with the homeless. Medecins du Monde, a doctors’
charity, began supplying grey tents to homeless people a year ago.
President Jacques Chirac ordered the housing right during his New Year’s eve address Dec. 31. De Villepin said the cabinet will approve a law Jan. 17 providing an extra 120,000 housing units per year through 2012.
The legislation, which must be voted by parliament before it adjourns ahead of the elections Feb. 22, will take effect from 2008 for street sleepers and 2012 for people in shelters.
Paris has as many as 5,000 people living on the streets, according to a government report published Aug. 9. That’s in addition to 26,630 homeless people in shelters in the Paris region. London has 1,500 homeless people on the streets, and Madrid 700, according to Brussels-based European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless.
France’s homeless population rose to about 100,000 last year from 86,000 in 2001, Fondation Abbe Pierre, a Paris-based non-profit group, said in its latest report. Shelters can house 91,675 people.
FT January 3 2007
France adopts Scottish policy of legal right to housing
By Martin Arnold in Paris
Published: January 3 2007 18:26 | Last updated: January 3 2007 18:26
French politicians are loath to admit they have anything to learn from other countries, particularly on social policy. But Dominique de Villepin, prime minister, on Wednesday conceded that Paris had copied Scotland?s legally enforceable right to housing, as he promised to introduce a similar measure in France.
The law would allow homeless people to sue public authorities and force them to provide accommodation. It follows an assertive campaign by homeless associations that has pushed a growing public concern up the political agenda four months before France?s presidential elections.
France?s interest in Scottish housing policies has surprised some campaigners who, in spite of long-standing close Franco-Scottish relations, are more accustomed to seeing the UK as a bastion of heartless capitalism.
Squatters Push Housing Rights in France
Squatters occupy Paris office building to press housing as presidential campaign issue
PARIS, Jan. 2, 2007 By JENNY BARCHFIELD Associated Press Writer (AP)
(AP) Homeless families and their supporters have taken over an upscale office building in Paris and set up a mock housing ministry in a bid to keep housing rights on politicians’ agendas before spring presidential elections.
The plight of France’s homeless and others living in poor conditions becomes a hot-button issue each winter. But with presidential elections on the horizon this year, it has taken on real political meaning and encouraged groups to take action.
A group calling itself the Children of Don Quixote recently set up tents for the homeless in the French capital _ and invited Parisians to spend the night in them. Associations made a push to register the homeless for the April and May two-round vote before last week’s deadline.
The enthusiasm on behalf of the homeless, and those housed in cheap hotels, appears to be spreading.
President Jacques Chirac spoke out on the matter in his annual New Year’s Eve address to the nation, pledging to work to “make the right to housing a reality.” On Tuesday, the conservative government studied a first draft of a bill that would allow the homeless to take their plights to court. They hope the bill will be adopted before parliament ends its session Feb. 22.
Two leading presidential candidates, conservative Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival Segolene Royal, have responded to the homeless issue. Sarkozy designated a noted lawyer to follow the issue, and Royal spoke by telephone with the Children of Don Quixote.
France, with a population of some 63 million, has about 86,500 homeless people, according to a 2001 study by the INSEE statistics agency. But the Abbe Pierre Foundation, which works with the homeless, estimated last year that the figure is closer to 150,000.
The squatters, including at least 10 families, took over the empty building in central Paris sometime last week, but their presence only became clear Monday, when a fire alarm went off, according to Yves Manet, deputy director general of the Lyonnaise de Banque group, which owns the building.
By Tuesday, families were busy outfitting the offices with bathtubs, showers and kitchens. Groups that organized the takeover were using some floors for their “ministry” to press politicians to take action.
A statement from the Right to Housing group said the action was taken on behalf of all those who could not find a proper dwelling, including people expelled from their apartments or artists with irregular incomes.
Most of the approximately 50 people who took up residence in the office building had been living in cheap hotels.
Squatter organizers said the building, in a trendy neighborhood across the street from the old Bourse, or stock exchange, was unoccupied for years before they “requisitioned” it.
“We cannot accept that there are buildings that are empty while there are people freezing outside,” said Alexandre Archenoult, a coordinator for Macaq, one of the three housing rights groups behind the takeover.
He said the squatters accessed the 10,800 square foot building through an unlocked window.
“We are going to stay here until we can find something else,” said Hafida Sadek, a 47-year-old mother of two who was evicted from her apartment in September. She had been moving from cheap hotel to cheap hotel, she said.
“It’s nice here, certainly better than out there,” she said, pointing through the picture window to the cold rain pelting down outside.
NYT January 2, 2007
Middle-Class French Join Sleep-In Over Homelessness
PARIS, Jan. 1 ? Hundreds of people emerged from tents beside this city?s Canal St.-Martin to greet the chilly New Year with a hot lunch from a nearby soup kitchen. But not all of them were homeless.
Dozens of otherwise well-housed, middle-class French have been spending nights in tents along the canal, in the 10th Arrondissement, in solidarity with the country?s growing number of “sans domicile fixe,” or “without fixed address,” the French euphemism for people living on the street. The bleak yet determinedly cheerful sleep-in is meant to embarrass the French government into doing something about the problem.
A new French law would make housing a basic right Reuters Published: January 3, 2007
PARIS: A new French law would make housing an enforceable right like education, the government said Wednesday, after a high-profile action by a lobbying group forced the issue of homelessness to the top of the political agenda.
ET Jan. 4, 2007
Ségolène Royal sets out campaign stall
The opposition Socialist party’s presidential candidate, giving her new year’s address in Paris before leaving for a four-day visit of China on Friday, said: “Housing is the first requirement for a secure family.”
Droit au Logement
Chirac promet, la lutte continue :
Réquisition d?un immeuble vide !
Paris, le 31 décembre 2006
DAL prend acte de la demande du Président de la République au gouvernement de faire que le droit au logement opposable et pour tous devienne une réalité, et qu?il avance sur ce point dans les toutes prochaines semaines.
Droit Au logement félicite les enfants de Don quichotte et leur action, sans lesquels cette déclaration Présidentielle n?aurait pas vu le jour.
C?est aussi le résultat des luttes de mal-logés et de sans logis engagées depuis 20 ans.
Overview on movements in ?Liberation”:
L?Humanité 3 janvier 2007
Droit au logement opposable : comment l?appliquer ?
HABITAT . Après l?intervention de Jacques Chirac, l?idée fait son chemin. Mais sa mise en oeuvre soulève de nombreuses questions. Décryptage.
Le droit au logement opposable, évoqué par le président de la République, a été accueilli très favorablement par les partis politiques, hormis le Mouvement pour la France de Philippe de Villiers, pour qui ce concept « appartient typiquement au socialisme le plus archaïque ». Cette unanimité est également de mise chez les associations de lutte contre l?exclusion et le mal-logement, dont une quarantaine se sont même organisées en plate-forme pour le droit au logement opposable depuis plusieurs années. Pour autant, l?application, en France, de ce droit soulève des questions fondamentales. Décryptage.
mercredi 3 janvier 2007, mis à jour à 19:19
La France se dote d’un droit au logement opposable Reuters
Le gouvernement annonce la mise en application progressive, d’ici 2012, d’un droit au logement opposable en faveur des mal-logés, répondant ainsi à une demande de longue date des associations relancée de manière spectaculaire par Les Enfants de Don Quichotte.
Les Don Quichotte ne lèveront pas le camp Charlotte Menegaux (lefigaro.fr).
Publié le 03 janvier 2007
Sur le canal Saint-Martin, où plus de 200 tentes sont installées, l?annonce du gouvernement sur le droit au logement opposable ne change pas la donne. Les campeurs souhaitent obtenir d?autres garanties avant de quitter les lieux. Reportage.
REUTERS jeu. janv. 4, 2007 4:25 CST25
Ségolène Royal présente son contre-programme sur le logement
Le droit au logement opposable doit être universel
Thierry Repentin, sénateur socialiste de la Savoie, explicite le concept de droit au logement opposable, une idée inscrite dans le projet socialiste pour 2007, récemment reprise par la droite, qui s?y était pourtant opposé à l?Assemblée nationale? en avril 2006.
Le droit opposable,
une étape vers un droit effectif
Le programme PS, plutôt vide sur le logement
SNL Union (NGO)
Le droit au logement opposable présenté en conseil des ministres le 17 janvier
CGL (tenants organization)