500,000 new homes per year are needed to avoid “a major supply crisis” in France

The government is worried about the decline in housing construction in France, and the Prime Minister on May 31 entrusted a commission of experts and elected officials chaired by François Rebsamen, socialist mayor of Dijon, with a student mission. “How to lift the brakes on construction”. On Wednesday September 22, the latter gave Jean Castex and Emmanuelle Wargon, Minister of Housing, his report of around forty pages with, at the end of the day, thirteen recommendations. It was urgent since some of them, of a fiscal and financial nature, must be included in the finance law for 2022, which is currently being drawn up.

“Construction is stalling, in a tight zone, with a drop of 14% in building permits, compared to the average level of 2018, explains Mr. Rebsamen. The dropout concerns both private and social housing: in 2020, the number of approved social housing plunged to 48,000 units, against, for example, 75,000 in 2016. “ The report quantifies housing needs: demographics over the 2017-2030 period require the construction of between 210,000 and 325,000 housing units per year, to which are added 2 million housing units to be created, during the period, to put an end to the without. -abrism. It is therefore at a rate of 400,000 to 500,000 units per year that construction should operate, “Otherwise a major supply crisis is brewing”, alert the report.

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For the authors, the dropout can be explained by two major reasons. First, the rejection by city dwellers of the densification of their neighborhood, sometimes on the pretext of environmental concerns. Against this attitude, “We must deploy an offensive political discourse in order to rehabilitate the act of building by demonstrating, for example, that a happy density is possible, with quality housing and well-sized infrastructure, suggests Mr Rebsamen. Why not blame the well-housed by publishing each year the state of demand for social housing in their municipality, and denouncing selfish approaches? We must, of course, step up the sanctions taken against cities that do not meet their social housing quota obligations. “

Exacerbated tax loss

But the report also points to recent financial and fiscal measures, taken under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, which discourage mayors from building. Thus, aid to building mayors, of around 1,000 euros per home, created in 2015 under the Valls government, had been abolished in 2017, upon the arrival of Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, while its incentive effect was proven. It was reinstated in 2021 in the form of aid to relaunch sustainable construction, up to 100 euros per square meter of housing authorized above a certain density threshold, which makes it a too restrictive tool. The rapporteurs ask that this aid be reinstated within the framework of a State-municipality or inter-municipal contractual agreement setting the construction objectives and the related State aid.

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