A recent report published by the Greater Paris regional council shows that every year some 2,000 lodgings are created from the division of hundreds of small suburban houses, converted by often unscrupulous landlords into several tiny living spaces where families live cheek by jowl for exorbitant rents. But, as Michaël Hajdenberg reports, local authorities are mostly impotent to deal with a racket, the consequence of a heightening housing crisis, which is earning slumlords a small fortune.
The Fondation Abbé Pierre, one of France’s leading charitable foundations dedicated to eradicating bad housing conditions endured by the country’s poorest social categories, today released its 18th annual report on the state of the French housing crisis. It estimates that 3.6 million people in France live in rotten housing conditions, ranging from the dilapidated to the thoroughly insalubrious. Most of these properties are situated in major towns and cities, but the report also sounds the alarm at the overlooked situation in France’s economically declining rural and semi-rural regions, where increasing numbers of the nearby urban population are fleeing to escape the housing crisis. Renaud Ceccotti reports from a rural area close to Paris where he met with a family whose descent into semi-slum living conditions is typical of many.
The privately-owned, 1960s-built ‘Chêne Pointu' housing estate (photo) in the run-down Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois contains 1,500 apartments. Slumlords rule the roost here, where more than two-thirds of inhabitants live below the poverty line and insalubrious, overcrowded flats are rented, room by room, for as much as 1,800 euros per month. The local authorities complain that they are largely powerless to combat the blatantly illegal practices. Edouard Zambeaux investigates.