Massimo A. Allamandola suburbanstudio at
Thu Feb 21 01:44:11 GMT 2008

Follow up from the various actions and "silent" work in France 
(in particularly)
and in Europe 
towards the implementation of the Right to Housing for all and
after that the French government voted on a law that turned the right to 
justiciable (5 March 2007).

Three French active groups, AITEC <>, DAL 
<> and FAPIL <>
finalized a document under the platform  Europe -- Third World Centre 
(CETIM) <>
to be presented at the next U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCI between the
3rd and the 28th of March.

Attached and below is the full text.  

Yesterday, 21st FEB, was called a night of solidarity with the homeless 
at the Place de la république in Paris.
It's organized by 27 organizations for housing rights and homeless.

Here  :
you can watch  the movie about the tent action of "Enfants de Don 
Quichotte" in
Canal Saint Martin, last year (71 minutes)


Seventh session
Item 3


Written statement submitted by the Europe -- Third World Centre (CETIM),
a non-governmental organization in general consultative status

Lack of Access to Adequate Housing

In France, a country with 3.3 million persons inadequately housed or 
and 6 million in a situation of real precariousness,
it is urgent to create the conditions necessary for the implementation 
of the right to housing!

 From Words to Reality!
Given the texts that have been ratified, the official positions, and the 
vote on the law that turned the right to housing justiciable (5 March 
2007), who could doubt France's commitment to guarantee the right to 
housing? However, the expectations of the right to housing persist and 
cover many situations: situations of occupation without legal 
protection, overcrowding, indecent lodgings unworthy of human 
habitation, people relegated to campgrounds, slums, lodgings in hotels 
and in group homes, people living in the street...

France has signed the major texts adopted within the framework of the 
United Nations, which closely link the protection of adequate housing to 
the notion of human dignity. At the European level, France recognizes 
that adequate housing is part of the respect to a private and normal 
family life (ECHR, 1950) and has committed itself to assuring the 
effective enjoyment of the right to adequate housing and to protection 
against poverty and social exclusion (Art. 30 of the Revised European 
Social Charter, 1996).

In France, the right to adequate housing is recognized by law as a 
fundamental right and recognized since 1995 as a constitutional 
objective. The right to housing is, with the Law of 5 March 2007, 
"justiciable" in the sense that one can take legal action against a 
public authority for failing to fulfill  its obligation to provide a 
housing solution .

However, this text is not binding for the public authorities.

The legal basis for appealing to the courts is limited. A special 
jurisdictional appeal is open only to persons classified as having 
priority through an administrative decision. The judge is limited in his 
power of implementation. There is no guarantee that a judgment will be 
carried out. The plaintiff is not compensated if he is not properly housed.
The right to housing is the right to have and remain in a decent, safe 
and independent dwelling. The right to housing is not the right to 
lodging. French law remains confused on the right that it wishes to 
confer, by allowing at any time during the judicial procedure the offer 
of a lodging rather than adequate housing. Although lodging may be part 
of a social re-insertion plan, it cannot be a solution adapted to the 
needs of the poorest populations, contrary to what certain legal 
measures provided for by the law seem to suppose.
In order to claim adequate housing, foreigners must fulfill conditions 
of permanent residency that are more restrictive that those applied to 
French nationals. This provision excludes those whose situation is 
nonetheless in conformity with the law, thus it constitutes an 
unjustified inequality of treatment in violation of the guarantee of a 
fundamental right.
Implementation of this law is without funding, and direct aid to the 
poorest represents less than 1% of the funds devoted to housing policies.

These texts are without effect if they are not accompanied by ambitious 
public policies such as to guarantee the recognized right. All 
indications are that there is a degradation of living conditions among 
those who are most vulnerable: the policies being implemented and the 
choices made, in fact, are contrary to an effective right to housing, 
and the current housing crisis continues to get worse each year.

Public Policies That Do Not Meet Needs!
- The socio-demographic trends have not been anticipated by the 
government: children no longer living with their parents, divorces, 
aging, have all generated an ever greater demand on the part of the 
lowest earners. The increase of unemployment and the precariousness of 
so many people's situations also have their effect: in parallel to the 
housing crise, France faces a serious social crise.

- The increase of real estate prices and of rents has contributed to the 
increase in social precariousness and excludes the most vulnerable from 
access to adequate housing as a common right. In six years, the cost of 
housing in the private sector has increased twice as fast as household 
earnings. Today, housing has become the biggest item in the budget, 
crowding out other essential needs. This increase in the price of 
housing makes landlords more demanding, and the lack of housing results 
in discriminatory selection criteria for tenants. The exclusion touches 
an ever greater category of persons, and wage earners are also affected.

- Aid for housing decreases in effectiveness: increases by the 
government are well below the increase in rents and do not take into 
account the substantial increase in utilities that is taking place with 
the recent deregulation of electricity and gas.

The shortage of housing has only increased over the past twenty years: 
the accumulated deficit in the production of housing is estimated at 
800,000 units in 2007. It goes without saying that there is 
construction, but it is not oriented to the demand. This gap only 
reinforces the inequalities.

Reducing Public Housing
The law on the social cohesion program, revised in 2007, provides for 
the construction of 591,000 public housing units, construction that is 
to be carried out over five years. Given the level of financing and the 
rents provided for, the accent has been on the production of housing 
units for the most solvent households.

A national urban renewal program provides for the demolition of 250,000 
housing units: 3.5 million persons are affected in 531 neighborhoods 
throughout France. It will be necessary to relocate these households, 
and new construction takes time. Yet the 1/1 rule is not being observed, 
in other words, one unit is not being constructed for every one 
demolished. Accordingly, those evicted by demolitions are often 
relocated to former low-income housing that has not been rehabilitated 
and, worse, is run down: they lose on the deal while they have not asked 
for the demolitions.

At the same time, the government is planning the sale some public 
housing to its occupants: 40,000 units per year will be leaving the 
public housing sector for the private sector. Private investment is 
favored through tax breaks. Speculative mechanisms are thus being 

The shortage of affordable housing relates also to local foot-dragging: 
742 communes are under obligation to assure that at least 20% of the 
housing in their jurisdictions is public housing, this by virtue of 
Article 55 of the SRU Law of 13 December 2000. This obligation has not 
been respected, as many of the communes prefer paying an insufficiently 
dissuasive fine to building anything.

The housing crisis is also a land crisis: the problem of the cost of 
land is without any resolution, and there are not policies tending in 
this direction.

Finally, the very existence of public housing is threatened by the 
weakening of its financing mechanisms. Coupled to the policy of an ever 
greater sale of public housing, the reform of the A Bankbook (savings 
accounts whose funds in part are used to finance public housing) 
accentuates the commodification of public housing.

A certain number of authorities working in the interest of the right to 
housing have been delegated or transferred outright by the government to 
territorial jurisdictions in the interest of proximity. However, this 
scattering of those responsible allows each to push his responsibilities 
off onto others and contributes nothing to the implementation of a 
coherent policy.

The Right to Housing for All is Neither Effective nor Enforced!

In the current state of affairs of allocated means, the government can 
guarantee the right to housing to only one-tenth of those potentially in 

In six years, the average waiting period for housing has increased by 
more than six months and can last as long as ten years in Paris. The 
households of the poor and immigrants are those who wait longest. The 
principle of housing according to income levels has become an excuse for 
local governments and public landlords to refuse their requests.

Even if housing conditions improve overall, the public health question 
remains significant: some one million persons are living in 400,000 to 
600.000 substandard units, not counting those households that cannot get 
into housing. The health of the tenants is cause for concern owing to 
the number of substandard and dangerous units and the lack of proper 
monitoring of compliance with requirements for occupation. The failure 
in the implementation of protective measures for individuals violates 
the right to health and to human dignity.

As the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Miloon 
Kothari, noted during his visit to France in 2007, squatted buildings 
and slums are reappearing, and the occupants are being evicted on a 
large scale with no possibility of relocation. These living conditions 
are not taken into account in the fight against substandard housing; no 
legal protection, no right to relocation nor right to lodging is 
envisioned for these occupants.

The problem of the homeless is not solved, and the homeless are as 
numerous as ever. Access to housing is not guaranteed them, and the 
housing authorities are saturated. The evictions of tenants, which 
create more homeless and inadequately housed, are ever more numerous; 
90% of them arise from unpaid rent. Eviction decisions are made without 
taking into account the economic, social and health situation of the 
occupants and without any relocation being guaranteed. Between 2000 and 
2005, the number of evictions increased by 40%, and those carried out 
with the support of the public authorities increased 65%.

The number of those whose status of occupation is precarious increases, 
as rightful public housing is less and less accessible to those in 
unfavorable and/or modest circumstances. Protections are weakening and 
even disappearing. Yet it is in securing the rights of tenants in 
opposition to landlords that the right to housing can be effectively 

These last years, use of hotel lodging has been frequent for the most 
vulnerable, in particular political asylum seekers. Numerous lodging 
programs have even been criticized for evicting occupants and not 
following legal due process.

The due-process guarantees are shrinking for certain categories of the 
The emergency eviction procedure has been reduced to 72 hours for those 
occupants with neither right nor title (by the Law of 5 March 2007 that 
instituted a right to housing recognized by the courts law) and for 
gypsys (by the law for the prevention of delinquency).
Evictions no longer require a previous decision by a judge and can be 
ordered directly by the prefect.

As the Special Rapporteur, Miloon Kothari, noted, in 2007, gypsies were 
excluded from the right to adequate housing. The Law of 5 July 2000, 
which obliges communes of more than 5,000 inhabitants to maintain 
appropriate camping areas for them, is not enforced: fewer than 25% of 
the 40,000 places which should exist have been created by the communes, 
leaving 80% of Gypsies with no place to stop. In theses conditions, 
access to services, to facilities essential to health, safety and 
nutrition is extremely difficult (potable water, energy, sanitary 
facilities, waste disposal etc.). Settling on land in order to set up 
even a temporary dwelling without authorization is subject to 
imprisonment, fine, suspension of one's driver's license and 
confiscation of one's vehicles. Moreover, these living conditions are 
characterized as being threatening to health, safety and the general 
tranquility and constitute a crime.

Other discriminatory treatment affects the households of foreigners and 
violates the principle of equality before the law, for example:
- The policy regarding migrant workers' households relegates them to a 
lower level of protection. (Internal rules of housing centers are often 
draconian and in contradiction to the right to privacy.)
- The housing conditions required for those requesting family 
unification require space that is much greater than that required for 
French households. (Before1998, family reunification made the request 
for public housing a priority.)

Possible Ways to Hold France Accountable for Implementing the Right to 

The right to housing supposes the existence of an accessible and decent 
adequate housing stock (public housing, regulation of the private 
sector, quality of housing) but also legal protection (status of 
occupation, right of those seeking housing, coverage of social risks) 
and targeted social services (including those aimed at vulnerable groups 
and specific services).

To achieve these goals, information and statistics are indispensables in 
order to:
- measure the gap between the demand of households and the political 
options being implemented (regarding the type of public housing 
construction, the budget allocated for this housing, the ANRU (Agence 
nationale pour la rénovation urbaine) projects...);
- measure the critical situation of inadequate housing and also take 
into account the effect on the middle classes (sign of the breadth of 
the housing crisis in France) and the regulatory provisions supposed to 
remedy it;
- evaluate the decrease of accessible housing stock (privatization, 
declassification of low-income housing, insufficiency of financing for 
public housing, rents...);
- evaluate the instruments of land and housing policy;
- measure the discrimination in access to housing;

It is urgent to make an assessment of the rights of tenants and the 
inadequately housed, while pushing for the large-scale and immediate 
creation of accessible housing units and the control of rents. 
Legislative developments should be evaluated with regard to the 
requirement that there be permanent progression permanent of basic rights.


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