About 400 people – women, children, men, with suitcases, backpacks and strollers – peacefully occupied, Thursday, July 29, the Place des Vosges, the capital’s tourist hotspot. In seconds, these homeless families deployed 300 multicolored tents from the back of a van and hung banners from railings and tree branches. On one of them, one could read “Counting is good, requisitioning to house is better” (allusion to the annual operation of counting the homeless who sleep in the street), and, on a another, “3 million empty housing units, requisition is the law”.
Among them, Antony, in his thirties. Broken off from his family, he has been living on the streets since he was fired from his job as a cleaning agent. There is also Nathalie, 36 years old, from Ivory Coast, and who has been living for three months with her companion in Parisian stations and parks. She admits that she only had real rest when she was hospitalized for the follow-up of her pregnancy. Several young Afghans are also present: newcomers who fled their country in the face of the advance of the Taliban.
The year 2020 is particularly hard
The operation at Place des Vosges was prepared by the Réquisitions collective, which brings together Right to Housing, Children of Afghanistan and elsewhere, Utopia 56, the Chadian and Sudanese Collective in France, Paris of exile, Solidarité migrants Wilson and the Coordination 75 des sans papiers. This collective is in its seventh camp, since its creation, in December 2020, and it has enabled 3,000 people to find shelter. “This is the only way to make visible all these homeless people scattered in the Ile-de-France region, where accommodation is saturated, and [où] only half of asylum seekers [sont] supported, pleads Yann Manzi, of Utopia 56. The year 2020 has been particularly hard for them, with a lot of repression, and there is no political will to resolve this problem. And don’t let them tell us that there is no room: there are 400,000 empty housing units in Ile-de-France. “
“Accommodation is a constitutional right, adds Jean-Baptiste Eyraud, spokesperson for Droit au logement, and, instead of spending a crazy amount of money in hotel places, it is better to relocate permanently. Unfortunately, the current policy is leading us to a worsening housing shortage. “
This camp will last “The time it will take, a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, until all those present are sheltered”, assure the organizers, who count on the benevolence of the City of Paris, owner of the place.
When contacted, Ian Brossat, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing, said: “We are not asking for evacuation and are working with the State on accommodation solutions. “