Prior to the 2024 Olympic Games in the capital, the French government intends to relocate homeless people, drawing opposition from some mayors of nearby towns and villages who are supposed to shelter them.
Beginning in mid-March, the government started requesting that local authorities in France set up “temporary regional accommodation facilities” that can accommodate a migrant-heavy outflow of homeless people from the capital.
The adjustments, according to housing minister Olivier Klein, were required due to an anticipated housing shortage in the City of Light during the rugby World Cup beginning in September and the Olympics in July and August of next year.
Numerous budget hotels that are used by the government to house homeless people temporarily intend to rent out their rooms to tourists and sports fans at standard rates.
According to government estimates, there would be 3,000–4,000 fewer hotel rooms available to house the homeless as a result of these events, Klein informed MPs on May 5.
He claimed that the anticipated downturn “forces us to think critically and plan ahead… It entails creating housing options in rural locations for those who need emergency housing. However, some of the suggested places are already causing local elected officials to express worry.
Philippe Salmon, the mayor of Bruz, a town of 18,000 people in northwest Brittany, expressed his objection to the concept of a new centre in his town close to the regional capital Rennes on Tuesday.
We do not support the construction of a facility in our neighbourhood under circumstances that we deem intolerable, the man declared.
He said that the proposed location was “polluted by hydrocarbons and heavy metals,” next to a train track.
According to Pascal Brice, president of the charity Federation for Solidarity Workers, “putting people up in good circumstances around France rather than on the streets of the Paris region is great in principle.
But will they invest the required funds? He warned against “putting people on buses” and then neglecting to provide for their needs.
The government, according to Hadrien Clouet, an MP for the hard-left France Unbowed party, is using “the method of all authoritarian regimes: moving the homeless by force to hide them from sight of those taking part in the 2024 Olympics.”
Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese authorities reportedly removed an undetermined number of hawkers, beggars, and homeless people off the country’s streets, with many of them being sent back to their home provinces, according to reports at the time.
Brazilian advocacy groups also claimed that during Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 hosting of the Olympics, homeless people were being ejected from tourist zones in the middle of the night.
The French proposal to build emergency housing in rural areas of the nation matches President Emmanuel Macron’s policy of attempting to distribute refugees and other people in need of social assistance from the highly populated Paris region.
The creation of housing facilities for asylum seekers in rural areas has already proven to be a contentious topic, engendering vehement opposition from some locals, far-right groups, and mayors.
An arson attack on a part of the home of a French mayor who backed a migrant centre in his region in northwest France caused him to quit earlier this month.Housing Minister Klein stated that the president has made the fight against homelessness “a priority” and that funding for the effort has “increased by five between 2012 and 2022.”
After taking office in 2017, Macron committed to putting an end to rough sleeping by year’s end.
Later, he acknowledged his failure and blamed it on an influx of immigrants from South Asia and Africa.
The homeless frequently set up camps and tents on Paris’ bridges and parks, but security personnel regularly remove these structures.