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Surprising Science

Homeless French Find Housing In Vacant Office Buildings

Activist groups and the government are working to help rectify a housing shortage caused by jumps in both unemployment and property costs.

What’s the Latest Development?

The French government has begun examining 120 vacant buildings in and around Paris to see if they are inhabitable; if so, they plan to offer the owners compensation in exchange for allowing some of the country’s growing number of homeless people to live in the buildings. It’s meant to be a temporary solution, with housing minister Cécile Duflot saying that the government is committed to building 500,000 accommodations in 2013. A third of that is planned for public housing; however, Duflot herself admits it will be a difficult goal to achieve.

What’s the Big Idea?

Increases in both unemployment rates and property prices means more French citizens are finding themselves on the streets, and shelters and public housing complexes are unable to accommodate them all. According to housing rights group DAL, more than 2 million commercial properties were vacant in 2012, which they say is reason enough to begin moving homeless people in without prior owner or government approval. Last month, activists snuck 13 families into an empty office building; since the owners have not yet responded to the group, the families will stay there until they are evicted by the courts, a process that could take months.

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Read it at The Christian Science Monitor


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