As France sinks deeper into the housing crisis, sector professionals have for the most part strongly criticized Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s announcements.
“Various answers”. The Social Union for Housing (USH) was not very convinced by the measures announced by Gabriel Attal on housing on January 30th. In a press release issued shortly after the speech, the organization is barely holding back, and the HLM world’s relations with the government have grown colder in recent years.
“On the occasion of his general policy speech, The Prime Minister had enough to talk about the housing crisis. This is the first awareness of the emergency that millions of French people are facing,” says USH, which represents 566 HLM operators, which cover 4.8 million rental properties and around 10.2 million people.
However, “to the reforms of the first five years of office (…), which have caused lasting damage to social housing, the President of the Government has chosen a completely outdated advertisement”, criticized USH, and yet “the first five that have caused permanent damage to social housing instead of returning to the annual reforms”. for which “nothing has been advanced to accelerate the production of social housing and to respond to the 2.6 million applicants” awaiting the allocation of social housing by the end of 2023. historical record.
“Regulating a market that has become uncontrollable”
Among the measures announced, Gabriel Attal plans to “massively simplify the standards” by revising and simplifying the energy performance diagnosis (DPE). Access to MaPrimeRénov but also by creating “30,000 homes in twenty territories within three years”.
“The expected 30,000 homes (…) do not even represent the deficit of social housing approvals in 2023”, warned USH, and recalled that “since 2018, the number of approvals (… ) has continued to decrease. It dropped to 82,000 in 2023 against a target of 110,000 “.
Regarding social housing, Gabriel Attal also announced “a new very long-term credit of 2,000 million euros” in response to rising land costs. But for USH president Emmanuelle Cosse, this is to offer “longer and longer, more expensive loans to pay” instead of “regulating a market that has become uncontrollable”.
“I noticed that the Prime Minister forgot to mention that the State takes 1.3 billion every year from the accounts of social owners.” USH refers here to the so-called “reduction of solidarity income” (or RLS) system. It is hidden behind this term A reduction of 5 euros per month and per household in the APL decided in 2017. In order to compensate for this decrease in support for personalized housing for HLM tenants, the government has asked the social housing sector to reduce rents by the same proportion. In other words, the social owners are the ones who have taken responsibility for this reduction in support. This hindered the investment ability to build the new HLM.
Tensions over the SRU law
Likewise, the President of the Government plans to “evolve” the sector to “help the middle classes”, giving mayors the power to choose the first tenants of new social housing in their municipality, and including “intermediate housing” in the calculation. Housing quotas imposed by the Solidarity and Urban Renewal (SRU) law on certain municipalities.
Adopted in 2000, this emblematic law of urban planning policy requires municipalities in urban areas to have a minimum rate of social housing (20% or 25% depending on the case by 2025). Today, many municipalities are not on the way.
Intermediate housing rents are “far too high for the vast majority of the middle class”, USH has estimated, noting that currently “only 3% of households waiting for social housing are eligible”.
The social owners have also denounced a “new attack” against the SRU law, that the change in the calculation method “will in no way solve the delay in building social housing” and that it will “reinforce territorial separation”.
“It is scandalous that the quota of the SRU law includes middle-class rental housing, which is aimed at the middle class or even the upper class,” answered Manuel Domergue, Director of Studies of the Abbé Pierre Foundation, to AFP.
As Manuel Domergue recalls, “three quarters of social housing applicants expect a very social housing”.
“Bad sign” for the majority of MPs
“There was no longer enough social housing and here we will allow mayors who do not want to welcome the poor into their territory to host the executives,” he added.
The president of the National Housing Agency (Anah), Thierry Repentin, has denounced a plan that “implies a repetition of the proposals made during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy”. “Intermediate housing, considering its rental level and therefore the income necessary to cover it, corresponds to less than 5% of applicants for social housing in France,” lamented Thierry Repentin, former president of the SRU National Committee.
The proposal does not reach consensus even at the level of the majority. Thus, the announcement was criticized by Stella Dupont member of parliament (associated with the Renaissance), a member of the left wing of the majority.
The relaxation of the SRU law “seems to me a bad sign, the risk of bringing about a decline in the construction of social housing”, he reacted in a press release.
Regarding the allocation of new social housing, the Association of French Mayors (AMF) finds its way. The AMF therefore, through a press release, has welcomed “the recognition of the authority of mayors to allocate social rental housing”. Currently, these attributions are decided by committees that include representatives of the landlord, the mayor, the State and the municipalities.
Fnaim protests and defends the trustees
In his speech, Gabriel Attal also announces the bill that will be responsible for co-owners. “Unblocking our economy also means conquering new freedoms, renouncing the principle of rent, being able to continue transforming and liberating”, believes the Prime Minister. In response to this, a bill for this purpose will be examined in the spring, “to unblock certain professions, such as trustees”.
In this regard, Fnaim, the national real estate federation, is very welcome. “Simplifying, the prime minister is wrong. The need is not to unblock the profession of the trustees, but to support their action and their decisive role in realizing the energetic renovation of the condominiums. Let us not fight the wrong way,” warned Loïc. Cantin, President of Fnaim.
“Housing is experiencing the full force of a crisis that is hitting our countrymen hard. This historical crisis is the most significant since the Second World War,” believes Loïc Cantin. “Despite this situation, the government does not have a clear road map or specific means. There is no real desire to make housing a priority,” he complained.
“On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the call of the Abbé Pierre, his words resonate today more than ever: ”Governing is first of all to save your people””, he added, and called for a “clash of solutions”.
“Considering the urgency of the situation, the proposed measures seem ridiculous and can only be a dimensioned approach, especially around the reform of the property tax, the answer to a market recovery”, judged Sylvain Grataloup for his part. President of UNPI, National Union of Real Estate Owners.