Place des Vosges in Paris, a collective sets up tents for the homeless

Demonstrators stand around tents set up by the Utopia association to ask for housing for migrants and the homeless, on Place des Vosges in Paris, July 29, 2021. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

About 400 homeless people, including families with children and unaccompanied minors, pitched tents on Thursday, July 29 in Paris, on the very chic Place des Vosges. The objective: ask the state “Worthy and lasting hosting solutions”. These homeless people are supported by the Réquisitions collective, which brings together several associations, including Utopia 56, Solidarité migrants Wilson and the Right to Housing (DAL).

In just a few minutes, 300 tents were set up at 1 pm on the lawns of the Place des Vosges, divided into three “family”, “single men” and “minors” areas.

Read also Place des Vosges, in Paris, a homeless camp: “It’s the only way to make all these homeless people visible”

400,000 vacant homes

“We plan to stay until all those present are sheltered”, warned Philippe Caro, from Solidarité migrants Wilson. “We are here to raise the tone: there are 400,000 empty homes in Ile-de-France. We demand a better application of the law on requisitions ”, he continued, referring to the 1945 ordinance which allows the State to install poorly housed or homeless people in housing that has been empty for more than six months, and this « for a maximum period of one year renewable ”

On the lawns of the Place des Vosges, tourists and onlookers cohabited with the hundreds of blue, red and yellow tents. “We chose this place because it is a tourist spot in Paris. We want to show another side of Paris. Make the invisible visible, also in upscale neighborhoods ”, explained Pierre Mathurin, coordinator of Utopia 56 Paris.

Read the article of the association Droit au logement opposable: “Obviously, the policy of ‘whatever the cost’ does not concern the right to housing”

In the “family” space, Touré, arriving from Ivory Coast in February 2021, shares a tent with her two children, aged 4 and 6. “I have nowhere to sleep, so this action is a hope for me. I will wait as long as it takes “, she sighs.

Families are waiting at Place des Vosges to request accommodation in Paris on July 29, 2021.

Families are waiting at Place des Vosges to request accommodation in Paris on July 29, 2021. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

“The only way to have their rights respected”

In a press release, the DAL explains that this is the ninth action of the Réquisitions collective. In May, this organization known for its punches had occupied with people without papers a gymnasium belonging to the City of Paris. At the end of January, it was a former nursery school of the XVIe arrondissement, then the Hôtel-Dieu in mid-February.

The collective has “Allowed nearly 3 000 people no longer live on the streets or in makeshift shelters. The installation in the public space of several hundred homeless people was the only way to ensure respect for their right to be accommodated until their rehousing ”, assures the DAL.

“With this action, we want to get out of a gear: instead of finding accommodation, the State relies on us. We find housing because no one else is doing it, but we shouldn’t be there to make up for the failings of the state. With these actions, we remind them that it is their role, not ours ”, denounced Pierre Mathurin.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also The stern eye of a UN rapporteur on the right to housing in France

The World with AFP

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