More and more invisible people. This Thursday evening, at the call of the Abbé Pierre foundation, around fifty associations will gather on the forecourt of Lille station to warn of the increase in the number of homeless people in the metropolis. A sad observation that the actors of solidarity fear to see worse in the coming months, in particular because of the economic situation.
By the very admission of associations working with homeless people, it is particularly difficult to establish an accurate census of this population. In some large cities, including Lille, the counts made during “solidarity nights”, requests from 115, the occupancy rates of emergency accommodation are nevertheless all means of establishing reliable estimates. “Between people on the street, those in slums and squats, we are more than 3,000 people concerned,” says Tiffany Thirolle, spokesperson for the federation of solidarity actors. To this staggering figure, we must also add a good thousand people who give up contacting 115 due to being refused.
Thousands of homeless people rejected by 115
In December alone, 2,069 homeless people were rejected by the Samu social de Lille for lack of space in emergency accommodation. “However, the number of accommodation places has continued to increase since the Covid crisis, which means that the number of people on the street is increasing,” laments Isabelle Fourot of the Abbé Pierre Foundation. For her, it is enough to look at the side of day reception: “One of the largest in Lille, that of Abej, rue Solférino, saw its occupancy rate jump by 40% last December. »
Explaining this phenomenon is not so simple. At the time of the first confinement, the actors of solidarity had observed a migration of homeless people to the big cities. Today, the economic situation seems largely responsible: “The cost of living, inflation have put people on the street and weakened already precarious households. If this continues, we fear the worst, ”recognizes Tiffany Thirolle.
This cry of alarm from the associations is not insignificant, the task of stemming the phenomenon seems to them gigantic. In Lille, however, we take note of “interesting but experimental” initiatives. We also salute the work in cooperation with public actors. “It’s all upstairs that it’s wrong. The government does not put the means that it would take to concretely apply the policy of housing first, ”insists the spokesperson for the federation. A rant that aims to reduce aid allocated to the construction of social housing. “In Lille, in January 2023, 1,800 priority households are waiting for social housing”, assures the federation of solidarity actors.