“Faced with the two social and climate bombs, there is an urgent need to change housing policy”


NOTWe are heading straight into the wall, the government knows it and yet it does not act! Its conclusions of the work of the National Council for Refoundation for Housing, announced on June 5, are a real disappointment for the actors of social housing and the 4.15 million people in a situation of poor housing.

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The situation of access to housing is increasingly alarming, exclusion through housing is becoming dangerously entrenched in our country, and the housing crisis is causing human tragedies. However, this government is not proposing anything to revive the production of social housing, which it has largely contributed to bringing down over the past six years. There is absolutely no impetus for housing policy in France.

The President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, is thus continuing his ideological undertaking to dismantle social housing, initiated during his first five-year term with the reduction of the solidarity rent (RLS) – which has social landlords compensate for the reduction in personalized housing aid (APL) applied to tenants -, the increase in VAT from 5.5% to 10% in 2018 and the end of the State’s contribution to the National Stone Aid Fund. These measures now represent a cost of 2.5 billion euros per year for social housing organisations.

The worse is yet to come

The result is a 23% drop in the construction of approved social housing between 2016 and 2022, leading to a real embolism of the system: 2.42 million households are currently waiting for social housing in France. The social park, to which 65% of the population is eligible, sees its vocation tighten towards the reception of the most fragile public. Frontline workers, acclaimed during the Covid-19 crisis, are no longer able to find accommodation in tense areas.

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But the worst is yet to come. With the sharp rise in construction and land costs, housing starts are collapsing. The social housing model has collapsed, and social landlords are tempted to limit new operations given their cost price and the level of capital required.

These decisions will have repercussions for several years, creating a veritable “social bomb” with time, as the delegate minister in charge of cities and housing, Olivier Klein, has himself acknowledged, without however drawing the consequences.

The other bomb is climatic. In its latest report, the High Council for the Climate observes that the current rate of energy renovation of the residential stock is very insufficient and calls for massive investments in this sector. Social housing, which consumes much less energy than private housing, can be a bridgehead for the overall energy transformation of our homes, but this requires resources.

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