France sees sharp rise in homelessness: study

France sees sharp rise in homelessness: study
A homeless man sleeps on Esplanade des Invalides in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. France has seen a nearly 50-percent rise in homelessness since 2001. Photo: P. Guyot/AFP
There has been a major increase in the number of homeless people in France over the last decade, according to a report published on Tuesday. The near-50 percent rise since 2001 is due in part to a surge in foreign asylum-seekers, the study said.

Some 141,500 people were without a fixed abode in France last year, according to Tuesday’s report by national statistics agency Insee. More than 30,000 of those were children.

This number represents a close to 50-percent increase in homelessness in Europe’s second-largest economy since 2001.

The study found that two out of five homeless people were women, but that women in general had better temporary accommodation than men.

More than half of those with no fixed abode were foreigners, the study found – a 15-percent increase since 2001 – and 25,000 were being housed in Cada, France’s accommodation centre for asylum-seekers.

Perhaps of greatest concern is that almost 50 percent of homeless people in France would prefer not to stay overnight in group accommodation, because of fears over hygiene and personal safety.

French Housing Minister Cécile Duflot caused controversy last December by asking Catholic church authorities to hand over empty properties to house homeless families during the winter. 

In 2011, The Local reported how homeless families in the Paris region had become so desperate in searching for shelter than some had even begun showing up at hospital emergency rooms.

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