I saw in the French news the other day that one or several councils/public housing authorities in the Parisian region were contemplating relocating people living alone in “large” flats into smaller ones so that larger families in need of the adequate lodging could move in!
I was astounded! The people potentially concerned by these measures had been living peacefully in their homes for years and although the flats were state-owned, and not private property, they were in France, the “Douce France” beloved to the late French singer Charles Trenet. It seems to me that tenants in France do have certain rights, especially, if they have the means, the right to continue living in a home that has been theirs for many, many years. A home where their children had been born and in some cases where partners, since passed on, had left the home with loving and tender memories! yes it does happen.
And why not build new flats? Wouldn’t that solve the housing and the unemployment problems at the same time? But of course I’m forgetting about the financial crisis.
My astonishment was further fueled by the fact that these people were not living in 200m2 sized apartments but shoe box sized flats of 65m2! I really was scotched and felt like I was listening to something Orwellian or from Soviet Russia where state appropriation of private housing was a thing of the 30s and 40s and the first thing to be abolished as soon as Gorbachev started implementing free economy measures to open up Soviet Russia.
If the councils and public authorities want to undertake such actions let them look at all the property owned, amongst others, by the Universities of Paris , EDF, Total and other Multinational corporations. And what about all the property the French Senate and parliament own? Apartments of more than 300m2, sometimes up to 1000m2 in central Paris left empty or let to senior civil servants at ridiculously low rents. Such scandals have come to light , thanks to certain alternative newspapers like the “Canard enchainé” (a French word game: Canard is a duck as it is a popular French term for a newspaper), where such apartments were found to be empty of tenants with all lights and central heating full on to prevent the property from degrading! amazing… and the carbon footprint in all that ?
Actually my wife is more amazed than me at the state of things in France. She comes from an ex-Soviet republic striving to build a viable economy and wonders how a country like France can move forward with all these strikes and demonstrations. They never seems to have change anything and leave the people, the workers, to wonder how they are going to get to work in the morning, because they have to go to work, without any public transport or get home because a demonstration has blocked the traffic… Lucky to get a bus home during the last one day strike my wife was further dumbfounded to see a Barbecue being setting up in one place to help the demonstrators restore themselves along the way! Why not deck chairs and waitresses, sorry restaurant personnel, as well!!!