A homeless crisis that has been brewing for decades leaves hundreds of French people dying in the streets.
Paris marked a dark stage last week when a 50-year-old homeless man was found dead on the street. It was the 119th death of the year in the city, which has seen victims ranging from 80 years old to infants as young as four years old die on the streets.
The Collectif des Morts dans la Rue is a charity that records the number of homeless people who have died in the streets of France. This year alone, the organization’s grim list puts the death toll at 439, although it believes it is an undercount.
The most recent death was condemned by a local politician who called the news “sad” and called on central authorities to open emergency shelters for families sleeping outside.
In March of this year, The Collective paid tribute to the homeless people who died in 2020, who numbered more than 535. They did so by producing 535 videos that told the individual stories of those who died.
The number of people who have died on the streets of France has risen sharply over the past 20 years. In 2002, official figures reported 88 deaths across France. By 2007, the number had grown to 199.
While a global financial crisis hit France in 2008, the number of deaths rose to 383. Since 2014, it has averaged over 500 each year.
In recent years, the number of homeless people in France – one of Europe’s most advanced economies – has swelled to over 200,000, which represents an increase of over 50% over the past 15 years. More than 30,000 of them are minors.
The plight of homeless people in France is the expression of a larger housing problem across the country. According to some accounts, this has left more than 3.6 million people either homeless, living in overcrowded housing, or reduced to precarious tenure.
In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that there would be no one left on the streets within six months.
“The first fight: to house everyone with dignity. By the end of the year, I don’t want anyone in the streets, in the woods, ”he proclaimed triumphantly shortly after taking up the presidency.
As the Covid-19 pandemic hit France and Macron’s presidency was marred by protests, this goal has long been forgotten.
However, the plight of the homeless in France is not due to the lack of housing. According to a recent study, of the 37 million homes in the country, more than 3 million are vacant, more than ten times the number of homeless people.
As winter approaches and Covid-19 restrictions begin to take effect, local authorities are trying to introduce emergency measures to temporarily house the homeless in a bid to reduce deaths and hospitalizations.
Source: TRT World