Decline in aid, “very timid” regulation… On housing, the Abbé Pierre Foundation draws up a critical assessment of the Macron five-year term

For her, housing has been a “poor relation of the quinquennium”. The Abbé Pierre Foundation unveils a bitter assessment of Emmanuel Macron’s mandate, Wednesday, February 2, in its 27th annual report on the state of poor housing in France. Despite some progress in favor of the homeless and “the take-off of energy renovation”the five-year term was marked, according to the association, by “unprecedented budget cuts”from “attacks” against social housing and “procrastination” in the face of the boom in the real estate market.

Unable to keep his promise of a “supply shock” housing which should have lowered prices, the president finally “designed a framework more conducive to the widening of inequalities than to the fight against poor housing or exclusion”asserts the Foundation, in this 360-page document, consulted by franceinfo.

During the term, the share of public spending on housing fell from 1.82% of GDP in 2017 to 1.63% in 2020. “Since 1984, the public effort for housing has never been so low”, notes the association. The Abbé Pierre Foundation sees this as the fruit of the State’s withdrawal from its support for low-income households. From 2017, by reducing the monthly amount of personalized housing aid (APL) by five euros, then by cutting back by various means on these APLs, the executive has made savings “staggering”each year more important.

“Over the five-year period, nearly 15 billion have been taken away from the most modest [en puisant dans les APL].”

The Abbé Pierre Foundation

in its 2022 report on the state of poor housing in France

Another “pillar of housing policy” saw its planed budget: social housing. “Between 2018 and 2022, the State will have deprived HLM organizations of six billion euros”a “considerable sum” which could have allowed “build more than 200,000 additional social housing units during this period”, according to the association. Despite an increase in demand, the number of new constructions has fallen in social housing, to the detriment of young people in particular: “Of the 60,000 dwellings [étudiants] promised, only 30,000 will be produced at the end of the five-year term.

All sectors combined, “housing production has collapsed”pushes the Foundation, while recognizing the aggravating role of the Covid-19 crisis. “The shortage of housing in tense areas has therefore persisted, even increased, resulting in unsustainable purchase and rental prices for the working and middle classes.”

Therefore, faced with a congested social housing, how to allow everyone to find accommodation, especially in metropolitan areas? “The government has followed a very timid policy in terms of rent control”, regret the authors. The regulation of Airbnb-type rentals, which accentuate the shortage, is also considered insufficient. Ditto for the sanctions against the cities not respecting the criteria of 20 or 25% of social housing.

Regarding the improvement of housing, the results are mixed. The association notes a “welcome return of state credits for the renovation of social housing”. On the private side, she welcomes the replacement of the energy transition tax credit by MaPrimeRénov, “which avoids households having to advance state aid”. However, the rest to be paid by individuals remains significant and the aid schemes do not encourage a global renovation of housing, which is more effective, too little.

On a more extreme side, the fight against the most unsuitable, degraded or dangerous buildings is slipping: less than 20,000 cases have been taken care of each year, a level “modest in view of the approximately 600,000 unworthy housing units remaining in France”.

The issue of poor housing, at the heart of the Abbé Pierre Foundation’s commitment and expertise, is far from having been resolved. According to the association’s estimates, a “hard core” than 4.1 million poorly housed people remain. In particular, there are 300,000 homeless people who live and sleep on the streets, in hotels or in emergency accommodation, a figure that has doubled in ten years. To this first circle are added more than 10 million people “weakened in relation to housing”who are faced with unpaid rent, overcrowding or forced to live in the cold at home.

“Nearly 15 million people are affected in one way or another by the housing crisis.”

The Abbé Pierre Foundation

in its 2022 report

The report published on Wednesday highlights a part of the government’s action which has made it possible to avoid even higher figures. A five-year plan in favor of the homeless, called “Housing first”, was launched in 2018 around a guideline: “Priority is given to housing as a first condition for integration.” Permanent housing has been allocated to 280,000 people in three years, so that “Rehousing indicators for people who are homeless or leaving accommodation are on the rise”welcomes the association.

Despite “small steps” and “small gestures” here or there, “many measures adopted in recent years have contributed to aggravating the situation” of housing in France, summarizes the Abbé Pierre Foundation. This is hardly a time for optimism among the authors, who say “to fear a ‘coming crisis'”. In a context of population growth, rising prices and “fall in social housing construction”the cocktail becomes more and more explosive.

Accusing politicians of not “enough to take into account the scale of this crisis”the Abbé Pierre Foundation calls for “prioritize the production of very social housing”, “regulate the markets by controlling rents” or “redistribute the wealth from land and real estate rent”. So many proposals that she will submit, Wednesday, at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, to the Minister Delegate for Housing, Emmanuelle Wargon, and to several presidential candidates, including Valérie Pécresse, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Yannick Jadot. After the hour of assessment comes the hour of general mobilization.

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