INTRO – There’s a housing crisis in Paris. There aren’t enough rental properties to go round. Huge demand has led to extortionate rents, and an increase in the number of people living in cramped, over priced and sometimes un-sanitary conditions. The crisis now has a political edge, it is set to be a major issue in next month’s local elections.
Mamadou who didn’t want to reveal his family’s identity, lives at the top of this building in one of Paris’s most expensive districts. They live in what used to be the maid’s room. It’s 7 square metres and costs $600 a month. They have been here five years. So scared are they of upsetting their landlord, they want to hide their faces.
Mamadou is only too aware of the desperate nature of his family’s plight. “I don’t usually let the kids go to friends homes because I don’t want them to see what they have. But once my son went to a birthday party. He was shocked, he saw his friend had his own room. What could I say to him?” He asked us.
He works two jobs and earns over $2000 a month. He could afford more, if it was available.
Paris is bursting with people looking for homes. But demand far exceeds supply. This family’s plight is not uncommon.
A recent poll found 60% of Parisiens now think housing is their number one concern. Being able to afford rent, having all the right documents and proof of permanent income, all make it incredibly difficult. It’s become a key political issue ahead of local elections in March……the politicians ignore it at their peril.
France’s biggest homeless charity says the politicians “get it” but don’t have the policies or money to address it.
Patrick Doutreligne, from the Fondation Abbe Pierre says: “In France we have great companies that make concrete, plaster and glass, so why doesn’t the government invest in building and jobs that can solve the employment crisis as well as the housing crisis.”
In one of the city’s suburbs we found a house which is home to 18 people. The Toures live in one of the rooms. They have one child and another on the way. Every time they ask for social housing, they’re told the list is full.
Again Lassane Toure like Mamadou works hard and feels he should be rewarded with better from the much vaunted French state. “For 13 years I have been working, paying taxes, and look at this, it’s too small. It’s no good.” He said.
Back in the maid’s room, an eviction letter from Mamadou’s landlord. The council says the room is not fit for purpose. They could soon loose what little they have.