Alarm over steep rise in poverty in Paris region

The Local France
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Alarm over steep rise in poverty in Paris region
Photo: AFP

It's time for a "radical change in planning policy", says one French charity, after its latest study found a growing inequality across the wider Paris region.


Paris may be one of the most attractive cities in France to live in, but the French capital along with its surrounding region of Ile-de-France is also one of the most unequal.
Indeed, while the region of 12 million people may boast 31 percent of France's total GDP, a full 15 percent its residents survive on less that €990 ($1,130) a month - and half of these people have less than €750.
The figures come courtesy of French charity the Secours Catholique, which released a study on Monday taking a closer look at the levels of poverty and inequality across the Ile-de-France's eight départements and over 1,200 municipalities.
And the results were grim, particularly in the poorest part of the Greater Paris region, Seine-Saint-Denis to the north of the city centre, where poverty levels continue to worsen. 
"We have to put out an alarm call," the charity's president Hervé Du Souich told Le Parisien newspaper. "How long can we let it go on like this?"
The charity noted that in Seine-Saint-Denis in 2002, the average income was 72 percent of the median income in the Paris region. 
Ten years later, in 2012, the average income had dropped to 68 percent of the median in the region. 
The study also noted that between 2004 and 2012, the proportion of poor households in the area had grown twice as fast as the rate across metropolitan France.
To put it in perspective, Seine-Saint-Denis is home to 22 of the 50 poorest municipalities in the Paris region with over 11,000 residents. But in total, the département only has 36 of the 273 municipalities with over 11,000 people. 
"If we don't act, these areas with high poverty - which are also hit by high unemployment - are going to continue to get worse in the coming years," Du Souich said. 
"We need a stronger showing of solidarity from all the municipalities and a geographical plan to rebalance the social fabric."
To make matters worse, Seine-Saint-Denis is seeing more than its fair share of emergency housing shelters compared to other parts of the Paris region, meaning that while a short term problem may be fixed, the shelters are only adding more poverty to the département in the long term. 
The study also noted that those living in the the richest département of Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-Seine, which covers the western inner suburbs of the city, live an average of two years longer than those in the poorest area, Seine-Saint-Denis.
It also found that those living in the top ten percent in terms of household worth were, on average, five times better off than those in the bottom ten percent. 
The study called for a "rebalancing of territories" with a goal of promoting social diversity. 
"We can't go on forming these islands of poverty, leaving some on the fringes of society looking in."



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