• A report from the Abbé-Pierre Foundation which appears this Thursday shows that the living and housing conditions of undocumented people are often unworthy.

  • Difficult living conditions which hamper their integration journey, but which also have consequences on their psychological and physical health.

  • However, for the Abbé-Pierre Foundation, there are levers to be operated to reduce this precariousness.

We remember this strong image: in 1996, Father Pierre gave his support to 300 undocumented Africans occupying the Saint-Bernard church in Paris. It is therefore not surprising that twenty-five years later, the foundation that bears his name unveils a report on the poor housing of people in an irregular situation. According to his calculations, 600,000 to 700,000 people are currently undocumented in France and do not benefit from a dignified and stable place to live. Ineligible for social housing and social benefits, unable to work legally, they are forced to rely on an expensive private rental market or other more precarious solutions.

"Many are lodged with people in their community, have recourse to sleep vendors, take shelter in squats or slums, obtain emergency accommodation in hotels or in a hostel for migrant workers, etc." describes Manuel Domergue, director of studies at the Abbé-Pierre Foundation. Living conditions which hamper their integration journey, but which also have consequences on their psychological and physical health: “They often suffer from malnutrition and depend on food distributions. Overcrowding of housing also leads to illnesses, stress, delays in motor skills in small children… And the difficulty in heating oneself causes chronic diseases ”, states Manuel Domergue.

For the State, these situations of poor housing also have a social and financial cost: "The sheltering of certain families in hotels is very expensive", underlines Pauline Portefaix, researcher at the Abbé Foundation. Pierre and coordinator of this study.

People have often had a residence permit before losing it

But it is clear that the living conditions of these people do not greatly affect public opinion.

“Undocumented people are often stigmatized in public debate.

Emphasis is placed on illegal entry into the territory, but in the majority of cases, the irregularity of the stay occurs upon the expiration of a visa, the non-renewal of a residence permit, the rejection of the asylum request ”, specifies Manuel Domergue.

In France, residence permits must be renewed most often each year.

"However, many lose their right to stay because of a change of status, the loss of their job, a break-up, the failure of an exam or failure to obtain an appointment within the time at the prefecture to complete the administrative procedures ”, continues Pauline Portefaix.

Maria *, a 24-year-old Albanian in an irregular situation since 2016, testifies to the complexity of the situations of undocumented people in France: “My partner and I were no longer safe in our country and we applied for asylum. which was rejected because we did not have enough evidence.

But no one leaves their country for no reason.

It's difficult to live far from your family, ”she explains.

Solutions against substandard housing

However, there are levers to improve their housing conditions. "Faced with the insufficiency of solutions proposed by the public authorities, associations and groups of citizens are mobilizing", underlines Manuel Domergue. Solidarity housing is offered by associations, generally with long-term social support, in order to help beneficiaries in their regularization procedures. Maria and her family benefit from such a device: "An association pays our rent and we charge them", she explains, while waiting for the administrative concerns of the family to be resolved. Another example: the “100 for 1 roof” scheme aims to bring together 100 donor members to temporarily house a homeless family.

But according to the Abbé-Pierre Foundation, the State should activate other tools: “Currently, all members of a family must be regularized to have access to social housing, even when the home has sufficient resources to ensure the payment of the rent. However, until 2010, it was enough for one of the members to have a residence permit to access it. We must come back to this rule, ”insists Pauline Portefaix. The Foundation also recommends developing solidarity respite homes, mobilizing vacant housing, etc. But also moving the lines with regard to the procedures for regularization, in particular by issuing more multi-year residence permits, giving people stability. ,systematically allow the exercise of a professional activity when issuing a residence permit… Ideas that go against the grain of those put forward by several presidential candidates.

*

The first name has been changed.

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  • Abbe pierre foundation

  • Lodging

  • Immigration

  • Illegal immigrant

  • Society

  • Bad housing

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