From our special correspondent
The photos parade on the cell phone of Hubert Jacquot, a volunteer at Secours Catholique. The photos from before, when Pierre (1) lived in a decrepit house, open to all winds, the cold of the Picardy winter and humidity. No bathroom, just a water point in the kitchen and a single radiator in the common room. “Every time it rained, the water ran in my room”, tells with modesty this man of 49 years who lives alone, tall build, shy face. A sad hovel in this village near Compiègne, which however begins to fade from memories.
For the past few weeks, it is a smart house, with redone roof and walls, which has stood in place of the old “thermal strainer”. There are still some finishing touches, but thanks to the work undertaken via the Eco Habitat network, the place is unrecognizable. In total, the budget reached € 42,000, which only this innovative device made it possible to mobilize.
“We play a role of technical and financial engineering”, explains Franck Billeau, the director of this network, partly associative and partly SAS (simplified joint stock company). In other words, Éco Habitat supports residents at two levels: establishing, with businesses in the region, a relevant work plan; and find funding, in the myriad of existing aids. “When you are in a precarious household, even if the Anah, the National Housing Agency, releases € 20,000 – already significant aid – you will do nothing… because the remainder is too high”, emphasizes Franck Billeau.
To renovate Peter’s house, funding from Anah barely covered half of the total cost. “Without the network, I would never have managed to make ends meet, recognizes the latter, it’s too complicated to navigate. “
We had to knock on all doors, those of communities and associations, such as the Abbé-Pierre Foundation. “Often, the means are there, but they do not reach the beneficiaries, especially the poorest”, observes the director, who regrets that we are then content with a “Bandage on a wooden leg” giving them a check for overdue energy bills. “We maintain a system in which people are cold, end up with huge bills, and which is deleterious for the planet. “ In France, construction is one of the sectors emitting the most greenhouse gases, with nearly 5 million thermal strainers.
However, to reach the most vulnerable, technical and financial support is not enough. “For this to work, you have to create a climate of trust with the beneficiaries. This is the role played by the volunteers of Secours Catholique ”, notes Franck Billeau, which Pierre confirms. Without Hubert Jacquot, he would not have had the strength to complete a project started four years ago.
For his part, this one says to have lived “His greatest adventure in fifty-two years of volunteering. The links we have forged are very strong. And I saw Pierre regain his confidence. It is he who phones the company, who chooses the materials. He raised his head “, he remarks.
In fact, housing is a powerful lever for reintegration, notes the director of the Eco Habitat network, who was for a long time regional manager at Secours Catholique, hence the idea of this alliance. “When you live in poorly heated accommodation, it is difficult to invite relatives. We thus see families isolating themselves. Conversely, finding decent and comfortable housing means finding a form of dignity, and this is reflected in your entire existence. People are finding work, for example. “
The Eco Habitat network, which has already supported 70 households in renovating their homes since 2014, is working on around 100 projects, in Picardy but also now in Nord and Pas-de-Calais.