Study finds sub-Saharan Africans disproportionately benefiting from French social housing

Report highlights how a high percentage of migrants, especially from Africa, are living in subsidized homes compared to the native French population.

Study finds sub-Saharan Africans disproportionately benefiting from French social housing
Bryce Edwards, Creative Commons
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A new study has revealed stark disparities in the demographics of who resides in social housing across France, with sub-Saharan African migrants and their descendants vastly overrepresented compared to the native French population.

The report, a collaboration between the Immigration and Demography Observatory and the Fondapol think tank, found that 57% of residents originating from sub-Saharan Africa live in taxpayer-subsidized social housing units known as HLM (low-income housing). Even more striking, 63% of the descendants of sub-Saharan migrants also occupy such housing, suggesting an entrenched, generational pattern, Remix News reported.

In contrast, the percentages were far lower for other immigrant groups like those from China (8%), Southeast Asia (14%), and other European Union countries (14%). Only 11% of French citizens live in HLM residences.

North African migrants from the Maghreb region also showed high rates, with 49% of Algerians and 44% of Moroccans and Tunisians benefiting from the social housing program.

Source: Fondapol

"This over-representation of immigrant families reinforces the idea that the French have a habitat intended primarily for foreigners," the report states.

Michel Aubouin of Fondapol noted that concentrations of migrant communities in these neighborhoods "generated recurring difficulties which result in particular in phenomena of great violence and the establishment of the criminal economy." He added the communities often become "isolated from the rest of the urban fabric."

The HLM system was created in the 1950s to temporarily assist low-income families, but the report argues it has become an ineffective long-term dependency, with "very low" turnover as generations remain in units, becoming "quasi-owners."

One in four of the European Union's 21 million social housing units are located in France at an annual cost of €34 billion to French taxpayers.

The study recommends reforms to prioritize housing for "precarious families" and better integration of non-Europeans.

Proposals include a moratorium on new social housing pending review, factoring an applicant's duration in France into decisions, and limiting lease terms to reinforce the temporary nature of the program.

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