At first glance this building seems to be sliding towards dereliction.  Look again and you’ll see that at least one apartment has new window frames and a number have sparkling, clean glass. It’s not just the pigeons who are at home here.




In Paris a shabby exterior often hides a well kept interior, thanks in part to the time it takes a copropriété (or co-owners association) to agree on repair and redecoration work.  This building in the 13th arrondissement needs more than a coat of paint and looks part empty.

Despite (or because of?) sky high property prices in Paris, there are a surprising number of unoccupied apartments in the city.  The official statistics count any property vacant at the time of the survey, including those in the process of being sold or re-let, giving a total of around 100,000 in 2014.  The real number of apartments left idle for more than a year is a matter of dispute, both statistical and political.  The activists of the Droit au Logement campaign quote a figure of at least 50,000.  The right wing press argues that the true figure is as low as 6,000.

What’s not in dispute is that rents in Paris have increased much faster than average earnings in recent years and that there are a huge number of homeless people living on the streets.   In Paris in 2015 around 28,000 people were classified as homeless of whom 4,000 were regularly sleeping on the street.  Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made combatting ‘exclusion’ one of the priorities of her mandate with the objective of ‘finding a roof’ for every one of those 4,000 people by 2020.  There’s work to be done.