Logo Habitat et Humanisme Ile-de-France

Local social support and diffused housing for social diversity from Habitat and Humanisme

Summary : The Habitat and Humanisme movement develops adapted housing solutions to meet new forms of insecurity. Since 1992, the team of employees and the local volunteer group from the 15th arrondissement of Paris have helped families and people on their own in their process of integrating with society by accessing independent accommodation in the heart of the city.

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  • Start date : 1992
  • Implementation site : 15th arrondissement of Paris
  • Budget : N/A


  • Habitat et Humanisme Ile-de-France
  • 6 avenue du professeur André Lemierre
  • 75020 Paris
  • Employees : 2
  • Volunteers : 18


Editorial committee

  • Date of proofreading :  04/04/2016
Opinion of the Committee : High impact ! Incomplete description of the programme
Solution(s) : Housing Social exclusion and isolation
Country :  France, Île-de-France
Stature of the programme :  National
Participant :  Association, ONG
  • Beneficiaries :  Urban population, Bottom Of the Pyramid (BOP)
  • Domain :  Housing

Reports collected as part of the RESOLIS programme « Poverty France » (Paris 15ème)

Copyright: Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
To reference a document published by RESOLIS : LEFEVRE Marie , « Local social support and diffused housing for social diversity from Habitat and Humanisme », **Journal RESOLIS** (2016)

Background to the programme

To respond to the injustices related to housing (notably those generated by the renovation of city centres which are closed off to the working classes, preventing people living in harmony), Bernard Devert, a former estate agent who became a priest, has founded Habitat and Humanisme in 1985 in Lyon. For the last 25 years this movement has helped people living in inadequate housing. Today it brings together: a federation recognised as being of public interest, 55 associations covering 80 departments, 8 estate agents with a social vocation, a property company, 3,500 volunteers and 350 employees. The Ile-de-France association, founded in 1992, operates throughout the Paris region.

Objectives of the programme

- Help people on low incomes, single people and families in difficulty to access adequate, low-rent housing

- Contribute to the social mix in cities by focusing on housing situated in "balanced" neighbourhoods (that is to say, in the heart of urban areas well served by public transport, close to all amenities)

Implemented actions

- Team of 17 volunteers (including 2 specialised in small jobs) and 2 salaried social workers

- Main activity: supporting housed families

- Conditions for support: submit a complete housing file request at the town hall or at the Enforceable Right to Housing (DALO) as part of an administrative appeal. A form can be picked up from the prefectures.

- Allocation of accommodation: Support for families put forward by the local authorities according to a reference document (support that precisely defines the housing allocation process)

- The volunteers help with: moving in, integration in the neighbourhood, everyday acts (administrative assistance, tutoring, neighbourhood visits, job search, French lessons, help with a project to go on holiday for the first time...)

- Each social worker is responsible for intervention in a geographical area. They work closely with the local group or groups in that area.

Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions

- Results from Ile-de-France in 2014:

* 371 families supported including 119 new families welcomed

* Housing stock (consisting of long term self-contained housing and temporary integration housing): 972 housing units managed by Solidarité Habitat Ile-de-France (Real Estate Agency with a Social Vocation (AIVS)) and 288 housing units managed by Foncière

- Qualitative impacts of the support: return of self-esteem, acquisition of autonomy and resumption of social ties

Original characteristics

Housing is used as a tool for social support in order to prepare families to be autonomous. Although values of solidarity and justice drive the movement, Habitat and Humanisme was not dreamt up as a charity but as a social enterprise. To reconcile "economic/social" and "human/urban", it has developed various approaches, such as the acquisition of housing by private investors brought together in civil property companies (SCI) or even in solidarity funds.

Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme

Local authorities, FAPIL (Federation of Associations and Actors for the Promotion and Integration through Housing), La Pierre Angulaire (Network of welcome and care centres), Solidarity Housing in the Loop (SBL) and Soleil


Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :

- Strained housing situation in Paris

Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :

- Usefulness of the municipal "Solidarity and risk-free rent" measure, which mobilises private property owners to make housing available to families living in furnished hotels or workers on low-incomes

Suggestions for future improvement :

- Gradual change towards greater use of integration housing

- Increase in guesthouses (new type of housing): 1st guesthouse opened in 2006 in Versailles (78) then Résidence L'Escale was inaugurated in 2013 in Clamart

Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :

> Regional volunteer branches that allow the skills at head office to be decentralised (support, real estate projects, search for funding, communication ...) in order to promote the local development of associations. Actions are always conducted in consultation with the operating divisions to preserve unity in the activities.

> Local Groups: monthly meetings to take stock of the arrivals and departures of families, to share support practices and good things to do in the neighbourhood. A (volunteer) manager facilitates and communicates with the social department (eg. support committees).

> They are themselves supported with giving support

> Training (eg. Listening, local support ...)

> Listening relationships of respect and mutual trust: valuing skills and know-how

> Adapt to each situation: definition of an agreement between the family, the social worker and volunteer depending on the familial situation, the integration process, the needs and the type of housing

> Housing estates for integration are spread out but situated in affluent neighbourhoods

> Rent adapted to the household income (often lower than the market price)

> Long experience in real estate sector: housing acquisition by Foncière Habitat and Humanism, partnership agreements with local authorities (implementation of the right of first refusal ...), estate agency with a social vocation Solidarité Habitat (management of privately owned apartments) and management of the estates of some social landlords

Bibliographic references

Devert B. « Un toit pour mes frères », ("A roof for my brothers,") CLB Editions (2007)
Devert B. « Une ville pour l’homme » ("A city for people") Editions du Cerf (2005)

To know more

- 2014: Honorary Award to Bernard Devert during the "Profit for Non Profit Awards" organised by Axylia (specialist in responsible financial solutions)

- 2016: Social Entrepreneur Prize from the Boston Consulting Group and the Schwab Foundation for Soci

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