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France: housing crisis

Banner at a former bank used by protesters
Crossing Continents
Thursday, 13 March 2008
At 1102 GMT on BBC Radio 4

Young people have a hard time finding suitable accommodation in Paris, and other parts of France.

With rents having shot up, there are too few affordable places, whether in the private or public sector.

Most private landlords demand a permanent job with a salary that is at least three times the rent.

This makes it impossible for many to find a home, from the unemployed or poor to middle-class professionals who are not established in their careers yet.

In the meantime over 10% of properties in Paris are vacant. Some of the owners do not rent them out as they use them for real estate speculation, while others are put off by the time it takes to evict any tenants that fall behind with the rent.

Activists

This has spurred a number of young people into action, either for themselves, or on behalf of others. A new wave of youth activists has been making headlines, with fun, ironic stunts and happenings, or more traditional methods like squatting.

And they are being effective. They get invitations to the Housing Ministry, and got promises out of presidential candidate, now President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who has since disappointed them.

One group squatted an empty bank-owned building till the town hall bought it to turn it into council flats. Another group is exposing landlords who offer reduced rent in return for "services" - not ironing, but sex.

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents will be broadcast on Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 1102 GMT. It will be repeated on Monday, 17 March 2008 at 2030 GMT.

Reporter: Jonny Dymond
Producer: Arlene Gregorius


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SEE ALSO
France's sordid housing crisis
12 Mar 08 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: France
05 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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