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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Plus de 3 000 sans-abri recensés la nuit dans les rues de Paris

by Laurent Mouloud

More then 3 000 Homeless People Counted at Night in the Streets of Paris

Translated Sunday 25 February 2018, by Paula Smith

On the 30th of January, the secretary of State along with the minister of the territory Cohesion, Julien Denormandie, caused outrage which affected the president of the ‘Federation of solidarity actions’, Louis Gallois, who "deplored the lack of political will to lessen the amount of homeless people". Lessen? Considering the results of the census, presented on Wednesday by the town hall of Paris, the word is almost meaningless. Conducted by 2000 people, including 1700 volunteers, during the night of the 15th to the 16th of February, this count found almost 3000 homeless people in the capital. A figure "which probably under-estimates reality".

In detail, 2 952 were counted "first hand", according to Dominique Versini, the Deputy responsible for solidarity and the struggle against exclusion. Numbers which are "significant", "much too high" not to mention that "not every person was counted", adds Bruno Juillard, the deputy Mayor (Socialist party) of Paris. In order to respect private property and people’s privacy, the parking spaces were not accounted for and neither were stairwells, particularly in rented social housing. "We have not awakened the homeless, we have not opened tents where there may have been several people" says Bruno Julliard. 672 people from the street have found refuge on a temporary basis in emergency accommodation centres operating within the ‘Big cold’ initiative. "When this initiative ends, they will end up back on the street and raise the total to 3 624", according to Dominique Versini.

In France there are no official statistics regarding homeless people. Only one inquiry from L’Insee dating from 2012, established that there were 143.000 people without a fixed address in France, including 28.800 French speaking adults in Paris and the surrounding area. Another census of the same type will be organised next year in Paris. "We will carry it out but not during the winter, rather in autumn for example, to enable us to see how many are living in the streets outside of the ‘Big cold’ initiative", states Dominique Versini.
Eric Pliez, the president of Samusocial, who has participated in supporting the homeless, as have several other services, explains "If we add on the people who are sheltered during the winter months, we are closer to 5 000. But “the task of finding homes is only possible on condition that everyone sits around the table: The state, the city, the associations and citizens. It was extremely important to bring some neutrality" he believed. Based on a similar assessment of 5 000 homeless people, the left political party communist-Front have requested in an interview "that 100 000 vacant homes in Paris should be made available". According to the Mayor, 16000 emergency places are open all year long in Paris, with an additional 1 500 during the winter months initiative.

More detailed results, containing sociological profiles, from willing participants whose names are kept anonymous will be released on the 20th of March.

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