French Social Housing in a Nutshell

Social Housing in France

Social housing in France is run by associations that act on the power of the state.  Altogether, social housing in France makes up morel than 15% of the total stock within the country.  The associations that provide social housing in France are both private and public sector oriented.   A good quick history of social housing in France is available here.

French Social Housing Association or Public Housing Authority:

It is easier for me to understand social housing in another country if I break it down to the city level.  In Paris, the largest social housing provider is Paris Habitat.   This housing association has over 120,000 units and houses over 300,000 residents.  This is similar to the scale of the New York Housing Authority.  Over 2900 people work for this association with 45% of the staff caring for the building.  43% of the tenants living in their properties earn less than $10,000 per year.  Click here to read more. 


French Social Housing Finance

I will start by recommending a few great sites here and just boil down their already great synopsis.    Go to Housing Europe and or Erhonet for full breakdowns on French social housing.  See blue hot links below.

The rent in french social housing depends on how much it costs to building the building.  The costs of building are reduced by money given from the state and local governments.  If you wish to know who the main finance players are, read the full article at both Housing Europe or Eurhonet.   The breakdown on where money comes from is a combination of bank loans, saving accounts, grants and various taxes and government subsidies.   Of great interest, there are plans to build and develop more social housing within the city center and extremely wealthy neighborhoods in the near future. See here  There are also some complaints that pressures to build more social housing are actually causing vacant buildings in some parts of France. See here

Who Lives in French Social Housing?

Much like the USA and other western countries, there are income limits if a person wishes to move into a social unit.  The limits are set federally and vary by region to region.  Our friends at Housing Europe bring out that the income limits are actually pretty high so there can be a good social mix.  That is in comparison to American social housing where only extremely low income households can live.  Much like the UK and the USA, there are groups that receive preferences for getting into social housing.

  • Homeless
  • Those who might be evicted
  • People living in sub-standard housing
  • Over-crowded households
  • Disabled

Challenges in French Social Housing: Banlieues

Banlieues seems to be the French name for what are ghettos in the USA.  Within these Banlieues there are complaints of  crime, drug addiction and even radicalization of Muslims within French social housing site.  One of the Charlie Hebo attackers came from a French social housing site.  See here-  A culture of joblessness, hopelessness and stigmatization is normal within these banlieues.  The New Yorker wrote an article that basically called these areas “The Other Paris”  


This was only meant to be a quick explanation with quality links to strong resources.  I recommend again Housing Europe as a good resource with more quality articles and information on French social housing.

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