Common thread 4 : Is social housing the future social bomb ?

Resolving tensions around housing.

Actors of the real estate sector in France noticed that the housing issues did not infuse the presidential debate, despite being the subject that widely affects our society for reasons that are inseparable from it, such as the themes of employment, living expenses, mobility, education or wealth inequality. 

However, the exhaustive note by Robin Rivaton published last February for the Think Tank Real Estech entitled "Housing, the future social bomb" had enough to make the candidates react. In it, the economist developed a dozen proposals to fuel the public debate, all of which advocated greater financial autonomy for local elected officials, modernization of urban planning tools, and reform of real estate taxation.

After reading the report, one can make three clear observations:

Observation no. 1. France is not a country where home ownership is widespread. The rate of home ownership in our country has even stagnated since 2007 (5th place in the ranking of OECD members at just under 58%, but only 30% in Paris). It is particularly significant to note that it has stagnated while the population continued to want to be a homeowner and while the credit rate was historically at its lowest.


It is easy to imagine that this is not the result of a choice but of a coercion. Moreover, there is a part of the population that does not have access to property, and which is therefore deprived of the possibility of creating wealth while it is engaged in employment and taxation.

According to an OpinionWay study for Artémis Courtage dating from 2020, 92% of respondents consider it "essential or important" to own their own home. For them, it is an asset investment but also a guarantee of independence and a safety net in the event of a hard blow. It is feared that this negative « inheritance » in the form of generational inequality will be reproduced over time and paid for socially one day.

Observation no. 2. While a part of the population does not have access to property, there is another smaller part which has access to multiple owernship thanks to these same low interest rates. These conditions lead to an explosion in rental investment. INSEE has shown that in a city like Paris, 50% of the rental supply was made by investors who had more than 5 dwellings. It is therefore a phenomenon that does not concern a margin of housing.

It should be noted that the High Council for Financial Stability has decided on restrictive measures concerning rental income, which is now integrated in a different and less favourable way into the effort rate. Previously deducted from the monthly credit payment (which was greatly reduced), for some months now it has only been added to income, with the monthly credit payment consequently weighing more heavily on the debt. However, these constraints can be circumvented by operating through a holding company or a SCI.

Observation no. 3. France is one of the countries which built the most dwellings in Europe over the period from 2010 to 2020. Since then, it has been noted that the number of new homes in France is set to fall. On the one hand, the number of new housing has declined and, on the other hand, the number of building permits for new housing has literally fallen (approaching elections which traditionally have a wait-and-see impact, reduction in available building zones in areas of metropolitan tension, etc.).

This downward trend is particularly noticeable in the case of collective housing. As a corollary, it can be seen that while the number of new dwellings is falling, prices on the new housing market are tending to rise.

This panorama takes into account factors that impact the sector in a structural way. One could also add to the situation some "aggravating" conjunctural elements that make the housing issue "a time bomb":

 Increases in energy prices

 Inflationary context

 Increase in the cost of rents (whose index is calculated from the average, over the last 12 months, of the evolution of consumer prices excluding tobacco and rents) Even if a revaluation of the SMIC tries to limit its impact 

 material supply for building issue (shortages, delays...)


On reading Robin Rivaton's note, one is entitled to think that the right to access affordable housing must become a major concern, even a major national cause. The author pleads in favour of a policy of support for the sector, otherwise our society will be facing serious problems. It should be remembered that the share of housing in a household's budget was on average 16% in 2000, 20% in 2017 and that it is now estimated to be in the range of 23 to 25% (outside metropolitan France where the cost is much more penalising for middle salaries).


It is commonly argued that social renting makes it possible to live in recent good quality housing. However, waiting lists are getting longer, and some households have no choice but to rent private sector housing, which fulfils a social role for which it is not intended, and in conditions of comfort, decency and healthiness that are uncertain.


This observation raises the question of access to housing for the working classes. This is why it is urgent to activate all possible savings solutions to lighten the overall bill, as it will continue to rise with inflation and each time contribute to a degraded societal context that is a source of tension and popular anger.


In any case, the pyramid of priorities that must guide the action is the following: we must be able to find housing, then find good housing and finally find green housing. So, on part of this prism, our vision is that it is essential to provide a technological response to this antagonism of affordable and sustainable building.  Part of the solution lies in energy efficiency to bring about a 25 to 30% reduction in energy consumption in all housing and buildings in the future.

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