On the news last night was a woman complaining about an 'abusive' increase in her social housing rent. She had been living in her HLM basically all her life and was enjoying a retirement income of 3,000Eur per month in the three-bedroomed flat just outside Paris.
For this, until this month, she was paying, monthly, about 600Eur but has now received an increase of just over 300Eur/month because her income exceeds the maximum limit allowed. She was very annoyed and declared that she's going to move to the provinces.
Sarko declared back in May last year that he was going to do something about the abusive situation of high-income HLM occupiers from Jan 09, and he's kept his word. The idea is to give those people concerned a choice. Either they pay a more market-based rent (the "surloyer" - supplément de loyer de solidarité (SLS)) and thus bring in more money to be used on building much-needed social housing, or they move out. Although they will retain the right to stay, the hope is that they'll be encouraged to liberate the property.
As the original concept of the HLM was to enable those on low incomes a means to live decently until they could afford something on the open market, this move of Sarko's is to be applauded, morally. HLM are not supposed to be housing for life unless the inhabitant's circumstances do not evolve.
For this woman who enjoys a very good retirement (so she must have been earning a good salary when she was working too) to basically squat in a flat that others are desperate to have because they have no option is a disgrace.
It's estimated that there are 140,000 tenants out of 2.7m who are concerned by this 'surloyer' which will bring in, if they pay rather than bugger off, around 300m Eurs to the HLM organisations. How could anyone object to this measure (apart from those who wish to keep their avantages acquis)? It must be infuriating to those on long waiting lists who are in desperate need knowing that there are a large number of people who consider their HLM as theirs until they die even though they could rent on the open market or even buy.
One wonders why HLM organisations did not implement the surloyer before - they were legally entitled to apply the measure as soon as the tenant's revenue increased 60% beyond the maximum level. (Wishy washy lefty hand-wringing status-quo-obsessive ineptitude?)
But one banlieue maire was not pleased either at the idea of these high-income tenants moving out. He said it would, basically, result in a dangerously high level of unstable riff-raff who would disrupt the entire neighbourhood. Which I think is a pretty arrogant thing to assume. There are many perfectly decent people who need an HLM because they are young and just starting out, or they may work for a public service, like nurses, and not be able to afford the extortionate free market prices.
It's taken right-wing Sarko to champion the rights of the poor by kicking out high income abusers!
And if you're wondering who lives in the HLM in Paris' most chic quarter, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Politique.net reveals (almost) all, and how they do it, here.