Housing and SSE

Kit departementalESS N°8

June 2021

Réseau des collectivités Territoriales pour une Economie Solidaire (RTES)

In connection with the renewal of departmental and regional executives in June 2021, the RTES is proposing a DepartmentalESS kit to raise awareness among candidates and provide tools for future teams wishing to support the social and solidarity economy (SSE).

This kit will include about twenty practical sheets, based on the principle of the MunicipalESS Kit published in 2020, illustrated with examples, and presenting in a synthetic and concrete way how a regional council can include the SSE in its policies.

Sheet No. 8 addresses the issue of housing and housing policy.

Although housing remains primarily a State responsibility, the départements have an important role in its implementation. They can supplement State funding and coordinate actions at local level while ensuring the coherent development of quality housing throughout their territory. The 4D bill also provides for them to be given the role of lead agency for inclusive housing and adaptation of housing to ageing.

They must respond to at least four main challenges: providing decent housing adapted to the needs of inhabitants at each stage of their lives; building or rehabilitating in an ecological and sustainable manner; revitalising urban centres; encouraging new ways of living. The social and solidarity economy provides answers and is often an innovative partner for the departmental institution.

There are several possible levers of action:

Benefit from the know-how of HLM cooperatives or associations working on housing

Because of its social competence, the department is in the front line here. It will find the 162 HLM cooperatives spread throughout France to be key players in social home ownership and social rental. United within a national federation, they have built more than 400,000 homes in a century. As the managing director of Toit aussi (a low-cost housing cooperative in the Somme) explains, « the relations that the Coop’HLMs have with the local authorities are very close, insofar as the local authorities can encourage the creation of new cooperatives.

To support the most precarious, associations such as Les Compagnons Bâtisseurs, of which several departments are partners, have developed an original system of assisted self-rehabilitation that allows the most disadvantaged to improve the quality of their housing at a lower cost with the help of a professional.

In Gironde, not forgetting anyone

Since 2015, as part of its Departmental Housing Plan, the Gironde Departmental Council has set up Fabriqu’coeurs d’habitat operations, to carry out innovative social housing operations. These dwellings, built by structures for integration through economic activity, accommodate people covered by the departmental plan of action for the housing and accommodation of people in difficulty (PDALHPD).

The Department also co-finances the projects of the Habitats des possibles association, which offers retired people shared housing, located in the centre of a town near services. These habitats are co-constructed with the inhabitants and local authorities of rural towns.

Relying on responsible public procurement

For the construction or renovation of accommodation buildings owned by the Department, it can include social and/or environmental clauses in its public contracts and mobilise all the different levers of responsible public procurement.

It is in the interest of the local authority to work with professionals who are aware of these issues and who have already proven themselves in this area. It can thus support SSE companies that are committed to an ecological approach, for example SCOPs in the construction industry.

Housing first

As part of the « Housing First » operation, five départements (Doubs, Gironde, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dôme and Seine-Saint-Denis) have committed to structural actions to facilitate access to housing for homeless people. This work was carried out with the expertise of SSE actors (Union régionale de l’habitat, Fédération des acteurs de la solidarité, URIOPSS, etc.).

Establish a policy revitalisation policy for town and city centres

Faced with the closed shutters of abandoned houses or the « hollow spaces » that dot the territory, local authorities are mobilising to create housing and revitalise neglected centres. These actions make it possible to link the issue of housing to that of maintaining services and relocating economic activities, in particular with the creation of third places, service centres or co-working spaces.

In Ille-et-Vilaine, the department has set up a support system for revitalising town centres and is positioning the SSE as a lever for its territory. Local shops managed by SSE structures are emblematic of this policy (see sheet 5).

Scic to reconquer town centres

In the small village of Faux-la-Montagne (420 inhabitants in the Creuse), the Scic l’Arban (of which the département is a member) is transforming two ruins into housing adapted to the elderly or dependent persons.

Innovating by recognising and encouraging new forms of housing

Shared, participative and cooperative housing are all names that designate initiatives that sometimes go back a long way and bring together several families or individuals around the issue of housing.

The Alur law of March 2014 created a legal status for participatory housing, which is experiencing significant development and can be a vector for participatory democracy, social cohesion and ecology.

The departments can help develop these projects.

For example, in 2014, the Côtes d’Armor department launched a call for projects in favour of participatory housing, allowing 5 groups of citizens to benefit from support and guidance in this type of project.

The départements can also provide guarantees to residents’ cooperatives.

The Puy-de-Dôme supports participatory housing

To encourage these projects, the departmental council has set up a specific aid programme. With a budget of €250,000, it is aimed at all project sponsors (individuals, local authorities, social landlords, etc.) and consists of subsidies of €10,000 per home, with a bonus of €5,000 if the project involves construction with bio-sourced materials, renovation with improved thermal performance or a project located in a town centre. 40,000 will also be made available to support the association Habiter autrement, which aims to raise awareness of participatory housing and support project leaders in the department.

To go further

  • An online conference « Housing & SSE: what levers for the ecological transition?

  • The RTES Newsletter n°33, November 2019: « SSE, a response to revitalise town centres

  • The RepèrESS guide « Access to land for SSE actors, issues and levers for local authorities », 2019

  • Referential of the National Participatory Housing Movement.