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20.000 social dwellings blocked in France

Social housing projects stopped in numerous municipalities

Paris, 8 September 2014 | Social, Economy

It seems to be a trend that appears after every municipal election. How can this be reversed?

Just six months after the municipal elections, several mayors have stopped the social housing projects in their territory, affecting thus thousands of people depending on these dwellings. According to Union Sociale pour l’ Habitat (USH), a French member organisation of Housing Europe, a total of 400 sites are blocked by the mayors. USH calculates that around 20.000 dwellings are affected by these decisions.

The president of USH, Jean-Louis Dumont is going to use the opportunity of the annual conference of the organisation in Lyon (23-25 September) to address a message to the mayors:

“I would like to call upon the mayors to let the social providers fulfil their mission and serve their objectives”.

USH has run a research among its members, according to which last August 400 blocked social housing projects were to be registered across the country.

In particular, 12.000 dwellings are located in four regions: Ile-de-France, Provence-Alpes, Côte d’Azur (Paca) and Rhône-Alpes. Just in Ile-de-France the federation estimates that the number of new build homes stopped is around 8.000.

“The hostile attitude of the mayors towards housing in general has a much greater impact alongside with the number of the blocked projects”, says the general director of USH, Frederic Paul.

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Data provided by USH show also that the blocking wave this year is much higher than the respective one that followed the 2008 elections. Mr. Paul claims that this tendency is linked to funding-related reasons. Another important factor that should not be overseen is the rise of the extreme and populist ideas in the country that have significantly affected the political discourse. This development has, of course, influenced the social housing policy at local level.

“City ​​officials remain sensitive to the remarks of their citizens who fear a decline in the value of their assets if a social housing construction project takes place close to their property”, adds Frederic Paul.

To reverse this trend USH accounts on the measures announced by the central government, such as the possibility for the Prefect to grant planning permission, which supports mayors particularly involved in construction operations that should also be achieved by an enhanced general operating grant (DGF). To grant this extra help, "We do not yet know whether the Government will take into account the number of dwellings started in general, or it will focus only on the number of houses allowed," explains Jean-Louis Dumont.

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