While the 5th Night of Solidarity organized by the Parisian municipality must take place this Thursday, January 20, Léa Filoche, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of solidarity and the fight against exclusion, explains the approach of the City to identify the homeless and adapt its public policies accordingly.
Last year, 2,829 people on the street were counted during the 4th Night of Solidarity. A figure down 21%, in particular thanks to the emergency accommodation places opened by the State during the Covid-19 pandemic. What will it be this year? Great novelty, the 2022 edition will be metropolitan, while 9 municipalities bordering Paris are joining the event.
What are these municipalities and how will this new and expanded Solidarity Night take place?
This is an edition that we wanted to “metropolise” […] The metropolis of Greater Paris has been associated with the system, from the preparatory work for the Night of Solidarity 2022. This is a first attempt. Nine towns in metropolitan France wanted to commit to this approach with the City of Paris: Saint-Denis, Aubervilliers, Bobigny, Bondy, Gagny, Romainville, Rosny-sous-Bois, in Seine-Saint-Denis (93), as well as Courbevoie and Rueil-Malmaison, in Hauts-de-Seine (92).
Each of them has called on its own volunteers, and not all of them will necessarily count people on the street throughout their territory. Some preferred to prioritize certain parts of their territory. As was the case in Saint-Denis (93) last year, the first city in the Ile-de-France region to have followed us in this process.
Other cities were interested but gave up due to the health context. This is a first phase of metropolisation, which will probably gain momentum in the years that follow. At the same time, several provincial towns will also organize their Solidarity Night on the night of January 20 to January 21: this is the case of Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse, but also Brest, Lorient and Rennes. This will provide a fairly broad view of the real situation of homelessness in France.
The figures are rather stable from one year to the next. Why restart the operation every year?
The first three editions showed stability in numbers, but last year there was a sharp drop of 21%. For us, this is still a significant development. During the health crisis, the State was heavily involved in opening accommodation places, so we will be very attentive to the figures for 2022 to find out if the State’s effort has continued. This is the first issue for us.
The other challenge is to know the distribution of these people on the street in the different districts of the Parisian territory. This then allows us to strengthen the systems in certain districts according to needs. In the center of Paris, for example, we had figures that we did not expect, particularly in 2019. We realized in particular that there were a lot of women on the street in the center of the city.
Be able to ensure social follow-up without disruption and without change
What do you use these results for?
Thanks to the questionnaire that we submit to people on the street, we can take a snapshot at a given moment of the profile but also of the journey of the audiences we meet. And this allows us to be able to invent new devices and try to see to what extent we can rebalance and improve those that already exist.
For example, in 2020, we decided to open a luggage store in each district, in response to demand. What will be done by the end of the mandate. In the center of Paris, due to the large number of women on the street, we have opened a stopover reserved for ladies, which can accommodate 45 women every night and a little more during the day. In the 18th, we have also opened a night stop reserved for women in the premises of the town hall.
We have also decided to extend the opening hours of the 17 bathhouses and to reserve slots for women, but also to deploy mobile teams who will “go to” the public who do not come to our facilities. That’s how we learned that many people on the street weren’t vaccinated because they didn’t have access to Doctolib. They now benefit from skip-the-line access in certain vaccination centres.
Another subject we are working on is the accompaniment of these people by social workers, because we have found that when you change your situation, when you get or lose a job, when you get or lose housing, you change worker social. A change that often causes follow-ups to break. Our idea is to be able to ensure a social follow-up without rupture and without change, and this, whatever the evolutions.
Last year, the Minister Delegate for Housing, Emmanuelle Wargon, announced her ambition to organize a Night of National Solidarity? Did you answer his call?
It would be very nice to have a big National Solidarity Night, and we would really need a photograph of homelessness across the country. On our side, we find that it makes sense and Paris has a strong vocation to invest in this national event. For the record, Emmanuelle Wargon’s team even asked the CCAS (Communal Center for Social Action) of the City, so that we could share the work we have put in place in Paris, on our training and our methods. recruitment. We put everything in the common pot.
The minister had announced that she wanted to organize it this Thursday, January 20, the first day of the INSEE census, and was ultimately unable to do so because of the electoral reserve as the presidential election approached. This is why the Night of National Solidarity does not take place. But what interests me above all is to know how the State behind it will come to accompany the cities, and open places of emergency accommodation in the light of the results of this Night of National Solidarity. I hope it can take place next year.
The idea is also to change the public’s view of these homeless people, to reverse certain prejudices. Because in reality, we are far from the cliché of the “stinky homeless bum”. It is indeed far from being the majority of profiles, we have a lot of young people, a lot of people who stay with acquaintances at night but who have no place to spend their days, a lot of women and elderly people Also. Just like many poor workers, who come to have their breakfast in our structures.
For me, this is also the meaning of this event, to mobilize all those interested in the question of extreme exclusion. And the Parisians are very mobilized and very committed to the subject. We refuse volunteers every year, we can see that Parisians feel very concerned. It is also the means of making it known that even in a capital like Paris, city of light which has so much wealth, a world metropolis, that there is also precariousness and misery and that we cannot be satisfied to say “it’s like that”.