Money talks – even when you’re applying for social housing. That was one of the things I learned last week, when the City of Light shone a spotlight on housing for me and my colleagues from London.
I took nine members of staff to Paris, to learn from our counterparts at the city’s largest housing association. The delegation brought together colleagues from across the business, from planned maintenance to procurement, from land to lettings.
Our hosts had organised a full itinerary, which included an introduction to social housing in France and spending time working alongside our counterparts.
There were also visits to new housing developments and large regeneration schemes – and to an exhibition to ‘reinvent Paris’. (The latter is well worth a visit if you are interested in architecture.)
What we found was there are many similarities between social housing in Paris and in London.
“Deciding whether an applicant can have a social housing flat all comes down to what they earn”
Importantly, there were many differences too. In France, for example, the council, the state and large employers – who pay a housing tax – can all nominate people for a home.
What’s more, deciding whether an applicant can have a social housing flat all comes down to what they earn. There are three tiers of rent levels in social housing. So, if a property is deemed suitable for the highest rent level, a housing association must find someone who can afford it.
If you don’t earn enough, you won’t get a look in.
There’s a lot to be said for this approach. However, it can leave flats empty for, literally, months, which isn’t great for the housing provider – or for someone in desperate need of a roof over their head.