HLMs faced with a growing demand from increasingly precarious populations

The HLM organizations gathered, from September 28 to 30, in congress, in Bordeaux, wondered, Wednesday September 29, on the answer to be brought to the growing demand for social housing. The list of candidates knocking on their door is growing year by year and in 2020 exceeded 2.15 million households, or 20% more than in 2013. Apart from requests for transfer of tenants already installed, the number of “external” applicants, a mass of 1.5 million households, remains enormous compared to the 412,000 households that were allocated social housing, in 2020, a dark year since, between 2015 and 2017, they were 500,000. Clearly, that means 100,000 families were left at the door.

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The Social Union for Housing (USH), federation of 436 HLM organizations in France, has, for the first time, analyzed the profile of candidates and their reasons for entering one of the 5.6 million HLM housing units. . The study was carried out using data from the national computer system for recording applications for social rental housing, a centralized file created in March 2011.

The flows of candidates reflect the movements at work in society, precariousness, emergence of the working poor, family breakdown … 40% of them live below the poverty line, 50% are single people, young people, students, 22% of low-income retirees and 24% of single-parent families. Thus, 70% live with only one income, that is to say of weak resources leaving them at the mercy of an accident of the life. “But more than half work, 42% have a stable job, 13% a precarious job, which defeats the ideas received about tenants and HLM applicants who would live on social minima”, remarks Marianne Louis, general delegate of the USH. “84% of applicants seek accommodation in the intermunicipal association where they reside, she also observes. So when mayors tell us that they do not want to build low-cost housing because they are afraid of seeing a population arriving from elsewhere, it is false: the applicants are already on their territory, they are their inhabitants. “

Increase in complex cases

“We see applicants who have been under the radar until now, students, working poor – the guy who works two-thirds of the time and earns 900 euros a month – and they are often in inextricable situations”, testifies Martine Jardiné, president of Gironde Habitat, departmental office at the head of a stock of 19,000 housing units which set up a commission to examine complex cases: it handled 74 cases, in 2014, and more than 600, in 2020. “The increase is certainly explained because we better identify difficult cases but above all by the worsening of precariousness and the clashed paths of families”, specifies Mme Jardiné, who cites the case of a divorced father, requesting a three-room apartment to receive his child in joint custody but who cannot be granted it until he has obtained the judge’s decision to grant him this custody, a decision which depends, precisely, on the fact that he has such accommodation. “So, to unblock this administrative node, we cheat a bit, confides Mme Garden, and we certify that he will have his accommodation before the allocation committee decides. “

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