HOMELESSNESS

Despite decline, nearly 3,000 still sleeping rough on the streets of Paris

Homeless people's tents during a protest action along the Saint-Martin canal in Paris
Homeless people's tents during a protest action along the Saint-Martin canal in Paris AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ANDRIEU

A recent study conducted in Paris found 800 fewer homeless people on the streets than during the previous informal census, carried out 12 months earlier. But there are still 2,785 people without shelter in the French capital.

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The overall number of the homeless is down by about 800 individuals, a 23 percent decline on the 2020 figures.

The census was carried out by an army of volunteers, on 25 March, known as Solidarity Night, directed by the capital's city hall in cooperation with concerned charities and aid organisations.

The worst-affected zone is the centre of Paris, with 367 homeless persons, followed by the 12th district of the capital, with 306.

According to Léa Filoche of the Paris city hall's housing division, the decrease in numbers is linked to an underlying political change which has seen more hotel rooms turned into temporary accommodation.

"Clearly, 2020 has been a crucial year for such a change, because of the health crisis," she explains. "And I think we're seeing the impact of that crisis on political decisions."

Paris currently has 32,300 emergency beds, up from the 30,245 available one year ago.

The number of homeless women is also in decline, the 242 individuals counted this year representing just 11 percent of the total. There were 695 women without homes in Paris in 2020.

Léa Filoche says she is pleased by the overall trend, but afraid that this year's figures do not represent a true trend. "I'm not sure we're seeing a real decline in the total number of people in need of a permanent place to live." 

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