Squatters move in by French president's home

7th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Squatters have occupied an empty building with a view over French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Elysee Palace to protest what they say is an unjust housing shortage in Paris.

Riot police on Friday sealed off the eight-storey office building, where 27 people including students and homeless families have moved in with sleeping bags.

The squat protest was launched by Black Thursday, a group campaigning for affordable housing in a city where the young and unemployed struggle to find lodgings despite many buildings lying empty.

"Every morning while shaving, Sarkozy will now be able to face the reality of the housing crisis," the group said in a statement announcing the protest.

"From the balconies of the eighth floor... the inhabitants can admire the Elysee, dreaming that state powers might have the courage to requisition empty premises for them."

Black Thursday, named after the day apartment-seekers face the depressing task of scouring the newly published classified rental ads, was expelled in October from another squat in a grand building on Paris's Place des Vosges.

It had occupied that building for a whole year.

"In Paris it's an obstacle course for a young or unemployed person to find housing," said one protestor, Alix Dre. "Office buildings are still being built in the capital while there is a lack of social housing."

In the new squat, "there are toilets on every floor" and the electricity works, said Karima Delli, a member of the European parliament for the green party Europe Ecologie and a member of Black Thursday.

A spokesman for the owner of the building, insurance company Axa, told AFP it would apply to a judge to have the squatters evicted.

© 2011 AFP

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