Housing: without financial means to fight the crisis, the minister wants to facilitate and encourage construction

Housing: without financial means to fight the crisis, the minister wants to facilitate and encourage construction

Le ministre Guillaume Kasbarian veut ôter les freins à la construction. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

Il y a 200 000 demandeurs de logement social en Occitanie, 4,1 millions de Français sont mal-logés et la production neuve s’est effondrée. En face, désargenté, l’État veut agir par d’autres leviers.

A hostile National Housing Council, which issues a negative advisory opinion, a reaction from tenant associations, the skepticism of social landlords, the frustration of developers. Presented this Friday afternoon in the Council of Ministers, by the Minister for Housing, the bill to develop the supply of affordable housing will arrive in mid-June in the Senate, in the National Assembly at the end of summer, without having convinced that he will materialize the "offer shock" ambitious by the Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal. And this, while the crisis is getting worse.

1 – The figures of a historic crisis

The latest report from the Abbé-Pierre Foundation, on January 31, spoke of a social bomb in « about to explode. 4.1 million French people are poorly housed, she estimated, 2.6 million are waiting for social housing, the majority (1.7 million) for a first home, points out ;Social Housing Union (USH), which brings together social landlords. The number of applicants increased by 7.5% in one year in France, and by almost 10% in the region, according to Habitat social Occitanie.

On the other hand, the number of building permits was down 19.8% from April 2023 to March 2024, compared to the previous period, indicated INSEE on Tuesday. 358,600 social housing units, free and intermediate, apartments or villas, had been authorized, when it would require "518,000 per year", assures the ;rsquo;USH. Worse, housing starts fall to minus 23.3%.

2 Incentives to do without obligation

The text by Guillaume Kasbarian wants "to give new tools to mayors, builders and social landlords to produce more housing and facilitate French access to an affordable rental offer and property ", explained the minister in Le Parisien, Friday. "Inciting and encouraging" are the key words, says the ministry, to "unlocking the sector& ;quot; without imposing any "new constraints".

A section is devoted to simplification – shortening of the free appeal period and residential densification, in particular – which goes in this direction. On the other hand, although it has put an end to tax incentives, the Pinel law in particular, the state does not substitute anything and the share of GDP allocated to housing, 1.6%, has fallen to 1998 level. The local political will to do so, to grant building permits, for example, will be decisive.

“A first constructive step”

"We feel that the subject of housing is finally being worked on", observes, regarding this bill, Mathieu Massot, boss of FDI Habitat. An actor who is both a free developer and a social landlord. "It’is a first step which seems constructive to me" with devices "which are interesting, in particular on the density, the time to appeal or the acceleration of access to property" of social housing (article 14), cites the Montpellier.

S’he reminds that "real estate is a long time", to doubt & rsquo;rapid impact of the law, the promoter welcomes the "awareness" of the government and says "rather confident about the coming months".

3 – The pivot, the intermediate housing

It is at the heart of the bill, a type of housing with capped rent – "15 to 20 %" below the market price, according to the Ministry of Housing –, located between the social and the free, rather intended for the middle classes. The government hopes for 30,000/year.

On the mayors' side, the text authorizes municipalities (1,161) with a social housing deficit compared to the SRU law to include 25% intermediate housing in their catch-up trajectory. Provided that they are already 10% or 15% of HLM depending on the case.

As for HLM offices, which today cannot hold more than 10%, the ceiling is doubled, to 20%. They are a factor of balance for the setting up of operations, the guarantee of "additional resources", of capacity to invest , we note.

On the tenant side, they offer an "affordable" to those who are close to but above the social housing income ceiling, a suite for those who wish to leave HLM as part of their residential journey and an "exit" for those who will have to leave.

4 – The end of social housing "for life"

The measure bristles the five main tenant defense associations, who consider, like the CLCV, that it is " direct attack on the social housing model".

Among the measures in chapter 4 devoted to access to housing for French people, there is an additional rent as soon as the income ceiling is exceeded, in HLM, the lessor can also &amp ;quot;take into account the assets" of the tenant. In addition, it will automatically terminate the lease if this income ceiling is exceeded by 20% for two years. "Social housing for life does not exist, Guillaume Kasbarian insisted on CNews on Friday. The idea is that the departure of those who are no longer entitled to housing due to their resources will benefit waiting applicants.

In 2022, in France, the turnover rate within social housing (vacated and reallocated housing) was 7.9%, a sign of a frozen situation. It falls to 5% in the metropolises of Occitanie.

5 – The controversy over HLM allocations

The bill seeks to give the first allocation of social housing to the mayor, based on his knowledge of the needs of his fellow citizens. "Such a measure, criticized the CLCV upon discovering it, would open the door to phenomena of clientelism and favoritism. " It’is "a proof of confidence" in the mayors , retorts the ministry.

“The State does not finance and it taxes”

Michel Calvo is president of the Montpellier ACP office and Habitat social Occitanie, which brings together social landlords in the region. 

What do you think of the text ?

There are common sense measures – access to tenants’ assets –, things that we already do and measures that open the door to dangers. We were very worried. But compared to the text before its passage in the Council of State, it incorporates safeguards which will limit damage.

Do you think this bill is up to the crisis ?

Absolutely not. It is there to create a screen, to provoke false debates. The State says that 8% of tenants exceed the income ceiling by 120%. Where does this figure come from ? At ACM, there are nine out of 25,000 and six cannot be expelled. This is a measure whose results will be derisory.

What is he missing ?

We have planned with the State 8,500 housing units this year, in Occitanie. This is where the hole is: the state does not provide the means to build social housing, it does not finance and it taxes with the RLS, which takes 1.4 billion euros; per year from the offices' own funds. 8,500 scheduled for 200,000 requests… He has no money, let him say so.

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