Student housing: will the State plan really allow new projects in Occitanie ?

Student housing: will the State plan really allow new projects in Occitanie ?

The number of Crous accommodation in the region is still insufficient despite new projects in progress. Midi Libre – SYLVIE CAMBON

With 10,300 accommodations in Cité U for 106,000 students, the supply is far from the norm in the region. The Crous is counting on government measures to take advantage of the land made available and launch other projects.

In 2017, candidate Emmanuel Macron promised 60,000 new student accommodations during his first term. It only brought 40,000 out of the ground. Much criticized on this issue, the State is attempting a revival with the announcement of a commitment to student housing . There is no question of hard and fast investments but of incentives addressed to all partners. The promise of 35,000 new Crous housing units by the end of the 2nd five-year term will only make the promises of the first…

What does the State plan provide for ?

In its "commitment to student housing" unveiled a few days ago, the government wants to create 35,000 new affordable housing units by the end of the five-year term and renovate the last Crous residences dilapidated.

To help find accommodation in private housing, the State wants to promote aid schemes which still remain too little known. This is for example the case of Dossier Facile or the Visale rental deposit, accessible free of charge to each student. To remedy this, a portal centralizing the main useful resources has now been created:

To facilitate the construction of new housing, a national agreement will be signed by the end of 2023 in order to engage all partners (community associations concerned, France Universities, Cnous , USH, intermediary lessors, Banque des Territoires, promoters).

It will be the subject of a national steering committee chaired by the two ministers, which will meet twice a year. The plan intends to rely on several levers: State land available for the construction of student housing must be made available free of charge to the Crous or be the subject of transfers at a discount to social landlords ( 11,200 housing units could be created in this pool); the transformation of vacant offices into housing will be encouraged; social landlords will have to include a share of housing dedicated to students; encourage intergenerational shared accommodation.

However, it proves essential, particularly in Occitanie, where Toulouse and Montpellier remain in the national Top 5 of the most requested cities. In the Montpellier academy, which has 116,000 students, Crous currently has a stock of 10,300 housing units, including 8,243 in Montpellier, 936 in Nîmes, 1,131 in Perpignan and around ten in Mende. There are none in the so-called “balance” university towns. like Sète or Béziers.

540 new housing units in Montpellier by 2025

Several new residences will soon see the light of day in Montpellier: 150 studios near the Cité Boutonnet in 2024, and 290 housing units attached to the Voie Domitienne city delivered in 2024-2025. The transformation of the old chemistry school into an international residence with 102 housing units will take place at the end of 2025. 540 new housing units in total for an increase of around 5% in the stock in three years. Far from covering demand but the Crous ensures that it is working hard to launch other projects.

"The measures announced by the State will support the action of the Crous de Montpellier – Occitanie and collaboration with higher education establishments, the state real estate department and local authorities. We have regular links and we identify with them land opportunities located around places of higher education, explains Sandrine Cloarec, General Director of Crous de Montpellier-Occitanie.

"The free provision of land is necessary"

She acknowledges "a currently unfavorable context and a greater use of subsidies to balance programs", due to the significant increase in construction costs and the rise in interest rates.

"In this context, the free provision of land is more necessary than ever to carry out operations, adds Sandrine Cloarec. However, State land is increasingly rare, which limits opportunities. Our teams remain mobilized to facilitate legal and financial arrangements and the measures announced by the government will facilitate field work thanks to this national and local agreement involving all partners."

In Nîmes, more than 50% of scholarship students

At the local level, this management will be delegated to the regional prefect and the rector. It will ensure both the identification of opportunities on State land and that of communities or other stakeholders (social landlords, developers, intermediate housing stakeholders, associations, etc.) .

The urgency applies to Montpellier but also to Nîmes which has nearly 7,000 students. In 2019, the city of Nîmes offered land near the old Matisse university campus (600 housing units) which had to close its doors as part of an urban rehabilitation project.

"It's  an example of fruitful collaboration, underlines Sandrine Cloarec. A deed of sale between the city and the Crous at the symbolic euro allowed us to build a residence of 380 housing units under direct project management. But this creates a deficit of 220 housing units compared to the old U city and the Crous is studying a solution to complete this offer.

Develop intergenerational housing

"We have more than 50% of scholarship holders who need to be supported because the private market is tense, recognizes Benoît Roig, president of the University of Nîmes. But there is a strong mobilization of local actors. The student culture is still young in the city. Other solutions such as intergenerational housing also need to be developed."

After an increase of almost 80% in its numbers in ten years, the Nîmes faculty aspires to a period of stability. "We also have limits on supervision rates and we want to prioritize quality" promises Benoît Roig.

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