Wednesday, May 18

Paris: the opening of a reception center for the homeless unleashes passions in the 20th

Scheduled for the start of the 2022 school year, the installation at 73, rue Saint-Fargeau, in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, of a reception center for the homeless is unleashing passions in this district, where local residents do not see this project with a good eye. A petition was launched, while a public meeting was organized this Monday, January 17.

“Total lack of consultation”, “dangerous project for the district”, “passage in force of the town hall” … It is in these terms that the opponents of the project denounce the installation of a day reception center for the homeless – also called Espace Solidarité insertion (ESI) – managed by the Salvation Army, in large premises formerly occupied by the CPAM rue Saint-Fargeau (20th), at the foot of a private condominium.

Uplifted co-owners

If they assure not to be against the homeless, the latter deplore, in a petition posted on and signed by nearly 1,500 people, to have “been faced with a fait accompli”, and also express their fears regarding neighborhood life, considering that “no impact study has been carried out” while it According to them, there are “risks inherent in this kind of reception, such as violence, alcoholism and drugs”.

Worse, according to a spokeswoman for the Défendons Paris XX association, “everyone was fooled in this story, the town hall as well as the Salvation Army”, by the owner of the premises, who would have led people to believe that it was possible to welcome the outside public to its premises, “while it is not so”, according to her. An extraordinary general meeting convened by the trustee of the building must in particular take place on this subject on January 27th.

“Irregularities on all sides”

It all started on December 6, when the inhabitants of this condominium came across a sign authorizing the start of work signed by the prefecture informing them of the opening of a day center for people in great need. A project they know nothing about, since the current owner – who bought the premises from the CPAM and owns 60 SCIs throughout Paris – had promised them until then that only offices would be set up on site. Everything then follows, the co-owners set up a collective and get closer to a lawyer.

And together, they note “irregularities on all sides”, as the spokesperson for this collective tells us. “The owner would have already had to request authorization from the condominium to start the work, but the new destination of these premises [d’accueillir du public, ndlr] is in non-compliance with the rules of co-ownership”, he explains, stressing that he has no doubt that the co-owners vote against the start of work during the extraordinary GA of January 27.

“As much as we fully respect the mission and the role of the Salvation Army and we agree that we must help people in great need, we believe that this place is completely unsuitable and the installation of this center would be illegal there”, he added, indicating that if the Salvation Army takes the co-ownership to court, the risk is that the project will be delayed by the long time of justice. In the meantime, the mobilization continues for these residents, who plan to demonstrate this Saturday, January 22 in front of the town hall of the 20th.

Eric Pliez, the mayor of the 20th, defends his project and recalls his ambition to make the fight against exclusion one of his priorities. In a press release addressed to its constituents at the beginning of January, the latter explains that “the city of Paris has 16 solidarity integration spaces (ESI), distributed over the Parisian territories” and that the 20th, “in view of its size”, is “under -equipped” in the matter, having only one ESI intended for women victims of violence.

According to him, the opening of a second ESI in the 20th – voted according to the elected “unanimously” during the borough council of December 1, 2021 – would therefore “meet the important needs of the borough”. As for the concerns of local residents, he assures us that “the experience acquired since the opening of the first day centers shows that these devices do not cause any nuisance or sustainable regrouping in the neighborhoods where they are located”.

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