Scanlon, Kathleen and Whitehead, Christine M E (2011) French social housing in an international context. OECD Economics Department Working Papers, 862. OECD, Paris, France.
In this paper we describe the main features of the French social housing system as viewed from abroad, and place it within the context of systems in other major developed countries, particularly in Europe. At 17% of the total stock the social sector in France is of similar scale to many other European countries but aims to play a more ‗universalist‘ role. Moreover the sector still benefits from a special circuit of finance as well as direct subsidies to a greater degree than many comparator countries. Even so, increasing proportions of social tenants come from lower income groups and the government has legislated for rights to assistance. In this context we examine the comparative evidence on the stock of social housing and new construction in the sector; financing and subsidy regimes; systems for allocating tenants to social-housing dwellings; and the resulting demographics. We identify some French policies and practices that reflect the country‘s relative interest in maintaining a traditional social sector and areas such as public/private partnership where France has acted as leader in policy development. We also identify aspects of social housing where France is anomalous in a European context, as well as some where policy appears to have limited economic rationale. Finally, we make some observations about possible future policy directions.
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