The Cheaper, The Better ?
Housing the Homeless in France
France is well known for its administrative creativity, setting up fifty shades of shelters, determined by standars, public targetted, statutory occupation, services provided. The « supported homes » sector dedicated to homeless is provding a wide range of shelters (disability and health issues depend on still other categories).
Last december, the national government launched a call for proposals on « accelerating implementation of the Housing First. » Housing First precisely undermines this excess of categorisation, the link between services and shelters more than individuals, the predefinition of needs according to situations. The call for proposals itself is mentionning conversion from shelters to housing first. That perspective takes place in a context of budget shortage, for social policies, confronted to bigger pressure : high long term unemployment, migrations, age, vacuity of mental health policies, weakening youth policies.
As shelter system is questionned both by Housing First strategy and by budget restriction, it’s time to evaluate the respective costs (or prices, to be more precise) of shelter systems. Let’s take the example of Lyon, a city under average pressure, with around 15 000 supported homes for homeless, managed by NGO’s.
There are many forms, many exceptions, so below are detailed only the main classified trends :
Supported housing (1 400€/year) on public or private rental market. These are ordinary housing, managed by a social rental agency or close organisation, with a social support, mostly of another NGO. This costs the social sector around 800€/y for Social Rental Agency, and 600€/y for specific support on housing issues. People have an ordinary tenant status or a « sub-tenant » status offering very close protections on quality standards, rent regulation, protection against eviction,…
There are some hidden costs : other social issues are dealt with municipal social services, if no food, the tenant just has to go to a food bank. And the tenant recieves a housing allowance. But these hidden costs don’ t represent a burden on the social budget, because they are apart from it. This is an issue for the national budget, for municipalities, but not for the social budget as such, as other types of shelter depending exclusively on it.
Sheltered dwellings (Résidences sociales, subsidies for the whole buiding 12 200€ (below 50 rooms) to 25 000€ depending (over 100 rooms), but in an average NGO, only 25% of the dwellings are subsidised. At the end of the day, this would mean 62€ par room, per year, so owning NGO’s rent a portion of their rooms to the state as emergency shelters, sot hey can reach 250€/year on ordinary rooms. Besides, « optimized » individual allowances, to cover heating, electricity, water, here included in rent calculation). Résidences Sociales come mainly from former chambers for migrants or young workers, and have been converted in autonomous small dwellings, with private sanitation, own small kithen or place to cook. Still, there are some technical and social workers, in very tiny proportion, to support households who are mainly single persons. Households have a weird status,
Here again, there are hidden costs : local social services and housing allowances.
Social Inclusion Shelters : (CHRS, used to cost 30€/day per person, meaning 11 000€/year, 44 000€ for a couple with two kids, now more diverse and reform proceeding should end with a lower price). These shelters are dedicated to people with a lack of autonomy. This amount includes social support and rent (no allowance for people in these sheters, which makes them open to migrants inelligible to allowances… Equivalent in allowances would cost 3 000€), including water, heat electricity.
The support is not distributed to people hosted, but to NGO’s managing these shelters. They depend on an agreement that is not linked to housing shape, soi t can be used in separated flats, in containers, etc.
The calculation per person makes it more profitable to host families than single persons. Added to some provisions in low quality containers, this created a debate on links between costs and prices.
Shared buildings : (Pensions de familles 16€/day/person, 5 840€/year for a single person, 23 360€ for a couple with two kids), they are building with 10-15 little flats, autonomous, but with also shared spaces, day presence of a housekeeper. It’s dedicated to people with a long experience of severe social exclusion (i.e. rough sleeping for years), and some are specialised with mental health associated troubles. People have an ordinary tenure, with individual allowances.
This is nowadays promoted by the public authorities and some NGO’s extend this type of provisions to families, living in autonomous flats with shared spaces, for example when they have more administrative troubles than social problems. Then they have no allowances, but less social support, in some cheap buildings negicated with cities, congregations and so on, it is possible to host families and provide them food for a far cheaper price (and sometimes better provisions) than any other type of emergency provision.
Hôtels (21€/day per person + 3€/day for social support, meaning 8 760€/year/person, 35 040€ for a couple with two kids). This is the lowest quality/price ratio, with often a signel room for four people, impossibility to cook, noisy neighbourhood, uconvenient location. But this is the « reserve army » of vacant places able to be mobilized very quickly, even if not always. This winter 2018, hotels were anable to provide the 500 places contracted with the authorities, 150 places were missing, because all was full with ordinary clients.
Housing First for Severe Mental Health troubles (« Un chez-soi d’abord », 38€/day per person, 14 000€/year in social/health support, plus external services around 11 000€/year : total 25 000€/year per person).
People are hosted in ordinary housing, with a very strong support, important costs justified by the avoided costs in health system, far more expensive.
Synthesis table – homeless provision yearly cost
|1 person||Couple +2||External cost (1p.)|
|Supported housing||1 400€||1 400€||3 000€ (allowances)|
|Sheltered dwellings||250€||500€||3 500€ (allowances)|
|Social Inclusion Shelters||11 000€||44 000€||None|
|Shared buildings||5 840€||23 360€||3 000€ (allowances|
|Hôtel||8 760€||35 040€||None|
|Housing First MH||25 000€||Doesn’t exist||None|
 Allowances are a right, defined et distributed by the national State, depending on dwelling cost, household size and income. Maximum is 257€ per month for a single person, 405€ for a couple with two kids, in a big city ; a little bit more in Paris. Undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and some of EU citizens under « ureasonnable burden » circompstances are not elligible.