Post by kerouac2 on Oct 23, 2018 9:12:11 GMT
As long as I have been living in Paris, each new government has promised to eradicate the problem of homelessness by the end of their term. Frankly, I have never seen much progress, although many efforts have been made. Actually, that's not true -- I have seen a bit of progress because even though there seem to be at least as many homeless as there always were, they seem to be cleaner and healthier than when I first arrived. At one of my first addresses in Paris, there was a woman who lived on the footpath behind Gare Saint Lazare. She looked like just a bundle of rags since she must have been wearing at least 15 items of clothing. You couldn't see much uncovered skin, but what you could get a glimpse of -- mostly the face and hands -- was absolutely black with filth. I saw her in exactly the same place for more than a year, rooted to the spot, even in the snow. Then of course she disappeared one day as they all do. You don't see many people like that anymore. The municipal baths were made free in Paris about 10 or 15 years ago and also our society of wretched excess creates far more extra clothing and other items to be given to charity than 30 or 40 years ago.
But there are always as many homeless, maybe more, in great part for the reasons the media have told us. Perhaps our domestic stock of alcoholics and addicts who lost their homes, jobs and families, the gravely depressed, the deranged, the runaways, might have dwindled, but you could never be sure since we have the new stock of migrants, refugees and random wanderers to more than take their place.
Anyway, the point of this post is because there was a very interesting attempt at a census of the homeless in Paris earlier in the year. During the "Night of Solidarity" on 15-16 February, 1700 volunteers combed the city to find the homeless. The territory was divided into 344 sectors, including the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes, and they checked the streets and alleys, the metro stations, the underground car parks, the abandoned factories and rail lines looking for the homeless. They also checked the small parks, train stations, hospital waiting rooms... It was a very thorough investigation.
They found 3035 people living on the street and another 18,150 other in temporary emergency housing that was provided during the frigid winter -- some in school gymnasiums and lots in the tired old hotels that survive by turning over their rooms to the municipality.
The results have just been published, so here are a few facts about the homeless in Paris:
46% have been on the street for more than a year and the figure is 20% for more than 5 years.
45% have never asked the city for shelter and 65% have never called the emergency number for social services. 19% do not know know what number to call. (It's 115.) Those who have tried to call say that it is very difficult to get through.
So, how are they surviving?
36% beg for money and food.
34% receive social payments.
22% do odd jobs.
8% are helped by friends and relatives.
5% are employed.
3% have a retirement pension.
7% have "other" revenue.
Men represent 88% of the homeless. However, the number of homeless women is considered to be underestimated.
16% of the homeless are under the age of 25.
The volunteers found 23 families with 35 children. There were 11 couples and 12 single parents. Total: 69 persons. Half of the families have been on the street for more than a year.
Regarding homeless youth, 70% of them haven't been homeless too long, 56% for less than 3 months. They hang out in groups like stray dogs, mostly in the 10th, 18th and 19th arrondissements. Most of them panhandle but 14% receive money from friends and family -- about double the percentage of older groups.
The information goes on and on, and most of it is grim...