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Details and Comments on the Rue de la Banque Victory

Clarifications and comments on the Rue de la Banque victory

An agreement was signed Friday, December 14 2007 for the rehousing of 374 Rue de la Banque homeless families. The agreement was between the city housing minister and the housing organizations CAL, CDSL, and DAL along with the representatives of the homeless.

Clarifications and comments on the Rue de la Banque victory

These 374 families represent fifteen hundred people, nine hundred of whom are children. The state has committed to rehouse them all within a year, as soon as they have satisfied priority-based criteria of the DALO law law(for the enforceable right to housing).

The 143 families who have participated in the movement since October 3 will be rehoused promptly, followed by the households of the two other groups. In the meantime, current housing arrangements should be maintained.

The rehousing is the state’s responsibility, specifically the prefect of Paris.

The families will be rehoused in sustainable public social housing housing using the contingency housing stock managed by the prefect, as well as stock managed by other bodies ( 1% logement programme, local authorities, social housing providers) and by setting up temporary housing.

The housing minister needs to call a meeting before December 21 with the various housing attributors in order to organize the relocation, and should soon meet again with the Rue de la Banque delegation.

Agreement follow-up meetings will take place regularly, no doubt on a monthly basis.

The government tried in vain to elicit a last-minute commitment from the housing organizations to stop setting up camps.

A victory not only for themselves, but also for thousands of other poorly housed or homeless households

The agreement stipulates:

Generally speaking, so as to accelerate rehousing for these households, as well as other households in the same situation , the state commits to diversify responses to social housing needs beyond mobilizing the contingency housing stock managed by the prefect. To this effect, in line with established needs, it will be able to:

- solicit housing stock from other managing bodies, whether in the domain of the Parisian local authorities, other Île-de-France local authorities, the 1% employer contribution or social housing providers;

- make temporarily available vacant housing, particularly that owned exclusively by the state, the city of Paris, or the institutions concerned;

- make temporarily available public social housing that is vacant (due to ANRU [ National Urban Renewal Agency] demolition-reconstruction programmes, or for any other reason ).

These new forms of rehousing are meant to serve as a replacement for unsuitable, costly, dangerous hotels, inadequate housing, gymnasiums and emergency shelters for households that do not have other problems besides being deprived of decent housing. They should also replace the precarious, make-shift forms of shelter that the homeless are confined to, like the men and women who live in the slums, their cars, campsites, mobile homes, shantytowns, or under the threat of eviction.

This is the first step towards acting on the claim that “one hundred thousand homes are possible right now.”

The result of a long and severely-repressed struggle

The mobile police and riot control forces intervened on seven different occasions to dislodge the campers; they laid siege incessantly for fifteen days and fourteen nights, tactics not seen since the 1980s. The families returned after each eviction, more determined than ever, despite the bone-chilling violence. Their determination, courage, and unbroken solidarity were the main reasons for this achievement. They have garnered an ever-widening support for their cause, despite the prejudices against them.

Effectively, since the beginning of July, the authorities have been sending the police to crush the encampments and shantytowns, and eradicate the most visible aspects of the housing crisis. This has been the strategy and trend of the government since its inception, as evidenced by the repression of les Don Quichottes this weekend.

In addition to this, the housing minister denigrated the families by claiming that they already had housing; she accused the DAL of taking advantage instrumentalizing the homeless, and accused the artists and personalities of trying to stage a media spectacle.

The cold, the wind, and the rain did not get the better of them either.

It was at this price that the homeless achieved the support of the housing ministry, as soon as it realized it wasn’t going to break the will of the homeless mothers who were the ones leading and galvanizing the movement.

The support of the artists and personalities also weighed in on the government’s decision to really negotiate. For example, the meeting with Sarkozy was brought about by Carole Bouquet (with the activist group la Voix de l’Enfant ), the Socialist Party’s support was secured by Josiane Balasko’s appeal (what the hell is the Left doing?), and Emmanuelle Béart, Roman Bohringer, Guy Bedos and Joe Star got the attention of the media.

Support from not-for-profit groups, the unions, political parties, movements active in countries across five continents, and everyday citizens (in impressive numbers) also made an impact.

The fight goes on

The families and the DAL organization would like to thank all those who have contributed, one way or another, by a simple gesture, or by continued commitment, to achieving this step forward.

The DAL, CDSL, CAL and the homeless will be vigilant in ensuring that this agreement be respected. It constitutes a concrete and immediate breakthrough which may help substantiate the DALO law.

In the coming days, the homeless of La Rue de la Banque will hold a general assembly, the support committee will meet, as will the housing crisis ministry bodies, to draw conclusions on the struggle and assess the results, organize follow-up actions, and launch unified initiatives.

In effect, this victory does not eradicate the causes of the housing crisis; it only opens up a channel for responding to some of its effects, and given the housing measures announced by N. Sarkozy, it is possible that it will worsen, and will affect an even greater number of people.

Remain vigilant: we still count on you for your support in achieving the right to housing for all.

Paris, Sunday 16 December, 2007

To keep up with what’s going on with the Rue de la Banque , click on these French-language links: http://www.radio-ministere.bellinux.net and http://www.globenet.org/dal/ >