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Amiens, France Prioritizes Social Housing Lease-Ownershi...

Amiens, France Prioritizes Social Housing Lease-Ownership Program

The French government hopes to facilitate the construction of social housing by giving land to local communities and social landlords at a low price. Jean-Christophe Loric, Deputy to the Mayor of Amiens in charge of urban planning and housing and President of OPAC de la Somme, explains the social housing situation in the Picardy capital.

Construction in Amiens, France

The French government hopes to facilitate the construction of social housing by giving land to local communities and social landlords at a low price. Jean-Christophe Loric, Deputy to the Mayor of Amiens in charge of urban planning and housing and President of OPAC de la Somme, explains the social housing situation in the Picardy capital.

Lots of Social Housing in Amiens

The SRU law (law for solidarity and urban renewal) which was passed in 2000, set social housing at 20% by 2020 in cities with more than 3,500 inhabitants. Two thousand-thirteen's Duflot Law moved the threshold to obtain 25% by 2025. Amiens already well surpasses that quota with “33%,” which translates to 21,000 social housing rentals, indicates Jean-Christophe Loric.

The housing inventory has risen to “79,083 in the Amiens agglomeration,” of which “92% of social housing units” are located in Amiens proper. The average rent has risen to 5.5 euros per square meter for social housing, contrasted with close to double that amount in the private rental market. “A social housing unit brings in about 250-300 euros a month for a 50 m2 T2 apartment,” calculates Loric. In the private rental market, one can count on about 500 euros a month for the same square footage.

Saint-Leu neighborhood of Amiens, France as seen from above

A Strong Demand

In the Amiens agglomeration “the pending demand for social rentals has risen to 8,000,” of which 88% are concentrated in Amiens proper as indicated by the city’s urban planning and housing management. Half of these demands stem from renters who wish to move, and the other half results from first-time job seekers. However, the rate of movement remains weak because “a third of households in social housing moved in more than 10 years ago,” indicates the City of Amiens’s urban planning and housing management

It is therefore necessary to build in order to meet the community’s needs. “We must construct 200-250 social housing accommodations per year in Amiens and 350 in the agglomeration. Yet only 180-200 accommodations are currently built each year,” explains Jean-Christophe Loric. Two thousand-fifteen aims to be more fruiticious, as “255 accommodations,” should break ground. The program created by Amiens Métropole, fixed in 2011 for a period of six years, projects the construction of 1,800 social housing units between 2012 and 2018. As an example, the SIP would construct “200 accommodations per year in the metropolitan territory,” specifies the City’s urban planning and housing management.

Developing Social Home Ownership

One of the missions of social landlords is to permit modest households to own their own homes.

Homes in Amiens, France

Via the local housing plan for 2012-2017, the City and agglomeration have the goal of attaining 200 accommodations for social accession every year. Currently, “50 social home ownership properties are subsidized by the city and 100 are subsidized in the metropolis, including all social landlords together,” notes Jean-Christophe Loric.

The city and Amiens metropolis will do their part in supporting social lease-ownership (PSLA) up to 100-200 euros per square meter in aid (according to the sectors and projects with a cap on aid). Certain neighborhoods of Amiens (Saint-Leu, Rollin, Amiens-Nord, Étouvie) will, according to the city contract, benefit from the maximum aid: 200 euros per m2 with a cap of 20,000 euros per accommodation.

Some social home ownership programs are particularly notable, including 18 accommodations in the priority development zones of Renancourt, six in Gare la Vallée and 19 in Boves de Picardie Maritime Habitat. There are also 15 in the priority development zone Amiens-Nord on Isle Delacroix, constructed by the co-op Toit Aussi. Finally, there are 10 in the priority development zone Victorine-Autier, built by Sacicap. The buildings will break ground if their marketing is successful.

How does your city help improve access to affordable housing? Are there any programs to help make property ownership more attainable for all? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below. 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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