It’s as if the cold had chased her away from home. Kaïna * sits wrapped in her thick coat, scarf and bonnet facing the table. In this early afternoon, the winter sun dazzles her golden eyelids. His eyes are tired, his gaze pleading. She is a teacher “to the end” appearing for Monique Martin on Monday, 31 January, during her term as municipal assistant in Pont-Sainte-Maxence (Oise).
“I rent a small 45 m2 privately, reveals Caina. My 15-year-old son has a tiny bedroom, I sleep in the living room and it gets complicated between us. I have no place to prepare my lessons; my teenager threatens to throw everything away if he has to do his homework under these conditions. In addition, the noise and the cold. We are covered like onions. My hands are blue. I can not stand it anymore. “
Unable to become an owner or find a decent and affordable rental, this 49-year-old resident comes to place her “Last hope” in the hands of the elected representative with responsibility for social housing.
“Do you need a T3?
– That was it, ma’am. Do you have any offers at the moment?
– It’s hollow. But DAs soon as I have one, I will place you on it. “
Kaïna can wait months. Some families wait for years. Welcome to the country of 2.2 million households seeking social housing. National motto: patience, hope and now anger. A still barely audible anger that could be repeated in the presidential campaign. However, the candidates did not make it a big topicone in two French people lives or has lived in public housing.
In Pont-Sainte-Maxence, social housing rises to three or four storeys on average. Small town atmosphere, old streets, fairly quiet neighborhoods and soon 13,000 inhabitants. Many workers and employees in the Paris region have found housing available here. Here come richer households, in search of space and green areas, 60 km from the capital and 40 minutes by TER. Wild weeds are rare, the initiators challenge each other to arm wrestling, and the prizes play the new kingdoms.
“In six years, the number of applicants in our field has increased by 20%, from 19,000 to 23,000”, is troubled Vincent Péronnaud, the general manager of Opac de l’Oise, the department’s first landlord. Victims of real estate inflation, new target groups turn to social housing. Officials register in large numbers. “At the same time, we made 20% fewer appropriations. Our construction budgets falling, and turnover rates are falling because our tenants can no longer afford to buy or rent privately. “
“This social elevator, which is social housing, works less and less well.”Vincent Péronnaud, CEO of Opac de l’Oise
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Despite one of the highest densities of social housing in the department (37%, well beyond the legal quota of 25%), Pont-Sainte-Maxence is struggling to make ends meet. 24 new public housing units and 51 intermediate flats must be delivered before the end of the year, behind the station. The ducks in the adjacent stream wonder who is coming soon to stuff them with stale bread. The visits have not started, the desires are.
“This residential area, I’ve had it in my binoculars since they laid the first breeze block”, warns Aurélie, who has been waiting for an HLM for two and a half years. Following a divorce in 2016, this mother of four has chained thousands of galaxies, including nights in her car in Paris, “a rotten apartment” in Pont-Sainte-Maxence, saw another, “rotten from home rotten”with “mouse”, always in the same city.
Here it is now in a nest outside many thorns, for 690 euros a month, almost on par with its RSA. She pays ruby on the nail thanks to 450 euros in housing allowance and 260 euros in family benefits, which she fears will soon see the planer in favor of her ex-husband. “I do not know if I can keep my apartment, despite a part-time job I just found at the petrol station.entrusts the 30-year-old. I do not want to go back to the street. So I bother the social landlords and Mrs. Martin so they find me something.
Madame Martin is used to being annoyed. The 75-year-old municipal assistant is permanent “harassed” of applicants, worried about seeing their case dragged out. “Since they have my cell phone, they call me to make sure I do not forget them. Even in Leclerc, people call me to stay overnight. If I want to be quiet, I go as far as Senlis to do my purchases. “
Deep down, she understands them. Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the elected representative has seen the economic situation of her constituents deteriorate. Also their morals. “People are exhausted and they become impatient, demanding. I think they are afraid of the future, of what will fall on them. Some are aggressive, unable to put into words their feelings.”
“If you’ve been waiting for housing for three years, I can hear you might be freaking out.”Monique Martin, Deputy Mayor of Pont-Sainte-Maxence
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In this corner of the department, a first physical attack was recorded in 2018. “I was forced to close the Nogent-sur-Oise office for several weeks after threats and violence”, reports Vincent Péronnaud, director of Opac de l’Oise. From now on, they are bad gestures “firm” and a town hall even “no longer decided to respond to housing requests himself”.
For more than a year, the Mayor of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, Arnaud Dumontier, has warned about this “electrification” which he also observes in his weekly sessions. “People come almost only to see me for housing. I am no longer mayor, but second deputy in charge of public housing. The worst thing is that their wishes are all justified, except for one or two funny people who want to move for has a two-bowl sink. “
“I sense growing anger. The next social crisis will come from housing.”Arnaud Dumontier, Mayor of Pont-Sainte-Maxence
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Deployed to Republicans, the 48-year-old elected representative is upset to see his political family lose interest in the issue of social housing. He was also in doubt before “convert” became president of the Opac de l’Oise in 2015. “I know now that it changes the lives of a family, in a street, in a city. I’ve seen people cry when they get theirs. We have to stop seeing social housing as a disgrace or a budgetary relationship.”
Will the next presidential election help defuse the bomb? For Kevin Matteuzzi, young owner of a restaurant in Pont-Sainte-Maxence, it is urgent to attack the sleep traders. “We are infected here”, he accuses. Before finding his rescue in the social park, the chef fought for three years against an unscrupulous owner who refused to renovate his apartment covered in mold. Its warnings addressed to the town hall and its railings deposited with the gendarmerie did not make it possible to acknowledge the unhealthiness of the house.
“What world are we living in? Have some respect for the tenants.”Kevin Matteuzzi, former tenant of dilapidated homes
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confessor “a little hatred of the sleep traders”flips Monique Martin in her appointment book. “Many of my applicants live in the private sector and are waiting in a worrying situation. Look at these.” The deputy wrote a few words under their name: “Urgent. Baby in March. Private, too small, mold problems.”
“Watch them.” At the edge of the department road, not far from Oise, which impregnates the municipality with moisture, a dead end is emerging. Upstairs, Hicham * opens. Radiator out of order. Broken window. Freezer apartment. The fungi devour the coats and attack the stroller, purchased a month ago. “I had to leave the little girl’s clothes with a colleague”, has moved the future father. On the coffee table medicine for the couple who got respiratory and back problems. “It does not fit in my head either.”
Despite a rent of 500 euros, the 39-year-old Moroccan does not dare say anything to his landlord. “I do not want any problems with him, he is very sweet”, he evacuates before explaining that his wife, Myriam *, has been waiting for a residence permit for a year. He has had his papers since 2017 and works as a truck driver for a local company. Myriam shakes in silence and is due to give birth on March 21. Another joyous event awaited “since July 2019”would be welcome at that time: the allocation of social housing.
* The first names followed by an asterisk have been changed at the request of those concerned.