Children on the street: the very vague promises of the government
Promises bind only those who believe in them. On October 19, at the end of a meeting with the associations, the Minister of Housing, Olivier Klein, thus assured that the executive has the will not to let “children on the street this winter”. Too vague and without guarantees, believe those who work daily with homeless people. To solve the scandal of street children, « we must have clarity on the means and the method »recalled in a joint press release the Collective of United Associations (CAU), Unicef, the FCPE and the collective Never Without a Roof, made up of teachers and parents of students from the Lyon region who have been organizing, since 2014, the reception of children and their families in schools.
families and local elected officials resist
At the heart of the showdown, the government’s refusal to reverse the elimination of 14,000 emergency accommodation places, provided for in the part of the finance bill, which has yet to be examined. The government assumes this reduction, invoking the end of the exceptional measures of the Covid period, but incomprehensible in view of the unprecedented number of children without an accommodation solution. As of October 10, there were still 1,766 in this case, after a peak of more than 2,000 at the end of September, according to data from the Federation of Solidarity Actors (FAS). « The situation of homelessness violates the rights of the child », yet recalled Adeline Hazan, president of Unicef France, during a press conference organized in mid-October at the National Assembly. “The street confronts children with a precarious environment, to which is added the battle to have their rights to education and health respected. »
« I dare to think that beyond all our political differences, we can find an agreement on this subject of emergency accommodation and street children », wanted to believe the communist deputy Stéphane Peu. In the legislative battle to maintain the 14,000 accommodation places, the left-wing opposition received unexpected support from part of the majority. Although declared inadmissible, an amendment along these lines was tabled by the deputy of the macronist left, Stella Dupont, and signed by forty of her colleagues. It must be said that to the mobilization of associations, was added that of ordinary citizens. In the footsteps of Never Without a Roof in Lyon, groups of parents of students have formed in several cities in France to open schools to families without a solution and challenge the public authorities. Some local elected officials also joined the dance, like Nathalie Appéré, PS mayor of Rennes, who called « the State to take its responsibilities ».
In addition to the problem of hotels mobilized to accommodate the homeless in the Covid period, who return to more lucrative activities, the State justifies these closures by invoking its investment in the Housing First program, which aims to replace accommodation by permanent housing. An argument swept away by the associations. They recall that, if durable solutions are desirable, the slowness of the deployment of this device does not allow for the moment to do without emergency places. This is all the more true since the State’s disengagement from the housing sector, which took the form of cuts in APLs and annual levies on the budget of HLMs, has caused the production of affordable housing to plummet. However, as Manuel Domergue, director of studies at the Abbé-Pierre Foundation, reminded us, “overcrowding in accommodation is also the result of overcrowding in social and very social housing”.