"Territorializing housing policy"November 2023
MOT president Christian Dupessey, mayor of Annemasse, reflects on the issue of housing in border areas, following Minister Stanislas Guerini's announcement of a cost-of-living allowance for public servants affected by the real estate pressures associated with Switzerland's proximity. Read his editorial!
"No less than 18% of French people live in accommodation that could be considered "insalubrious" . The housing crisis is particularly felt in cross-border living areas. Here, rent levels are often disproportionately high in comparison to national averages.
Take, for example, Annemasse in Haute-Savoie, with its population of 40,000. A recent study by the Observatoire des loyers on the private rental stock in the "Annemasse périphérie" urban area - i.e. the French Genevois and the Pays de Gex in the Ain department - shows that it is the second most expensive area in France, after Paris. The supply of Airbnb-type furnished tourist accommodation has also exploded. This also has a harsh impact on cross-border living areas. Everything must be done to ensure that accommodation is occupied primarily by local residents, and not mainly by business or leisure tourists. Although Annemasse benefits from 27% social housing, the only municipality in the department to comply with the SRU law, there are still almost 9,000 applications pending in the conurbation. We are using all the tools at our disposal to manage the land and the construction of new housing. Given the scale of demand, we need to support this development, not block it.
It has also become difficult for local authorities to retain their staff and recruit new civil servants. Minister Stanislas Guerini's announcements to declare 61 communes in Haute-Savoie and Ain to be high cost-of-living zones, and to create a functional compensation of 3% for civil servants, are a step in the right direction. It has unblocked an issue that dated back to 1973! Let's now work on a dedicated lease for civil servants, linked to their function, and on the possibility for local authorities to sublet a property for their agents.
Patrice Vergriete, the French Minister for Housing, is well aware of this: "We want a housing policy that's as close to the ground as possible. France has many homes and households. Some people deduce that there's no longer any need to build. And yet, there is a terrible social need", he declared in an interview with Le Monde. In this housing crisis, the social cohesion of the entire cross-border living area is threatened. It is imperative to give local authorities the powers they need to alleviate this crisis. The decentralization of housing is long overdue."
Mayor of Annemasse
President of the Pole métropolitain of French Geneva
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