Paris mayor eyes public housing boom

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The newly re-elected mayor aims to create 40,000 new housing units for low and moderate income families by 2014.

21 April 2008

PARIS  - Fresh from his re-election as mayor of Paris, Socialist Bertrand Delanoe told his first city council meeting Monday that public housing will be the top priority of his new mandate.

Delanoe, a rising star of the French left who ranks as the most popular politician in the opinion polls, said he wants to create 40,000 new housing units for low and moderate income families by 2014 - more than a third of which will be large apartments in the capital.

He also promised to renovate the city's current 170,000 public apartments to make them more energy-efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

"This is a new phase that is beginning," said Delanoe, who easily trounced a rightwing challenger in the March municipal elections.

Affordable housing will be the "top priority," he told the 163-member city council dominated by a coalition of Socialists, Greens and other leftists.

Noting that 62 percent of Parisians rent their flats, Delanoe pledged to set up new housing assistance programmes including interest-free loans for first-time buyers and the creation of a new real estate agency for public housing.

He also promised 1,000 special housing units for migrant workers in the city.

Since taking the helm in Paris in 2001, Delanoe has made affordable housing a top issue, arguing that the city of 2.2 million people should not be allowed to become a haven for the French bourgeoisie as real estate prices soar.

The deputy in charge of housing, Jean-Yves Mano, said the city had earmarked EUR 4.2 billion for social housing by 2014.

Delanoe became the first Socialist ever to hold sway in Paris city hall - which for some 18 years was the political fief of right-wing former president Jacques Chirac.

Since then, Paris has shifted firmly to the left, a pattern attributed to the rise of so called "bobos" - or bourgeois bohemians: middle class voters who have moved into traditionally working class areas, and who vote left.

[AFP / Expatica]






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