From its humble beginnings as a Celtic settlement along the banks of the Seine River, Paris has evolved into a global metropolis, a beacon of culture and innovation. The so-called “City of Lights” is full of architectural treasures and it’s been a muse to artists and writers throughout the centuries. Today, Paris remains a captivating destination, a city that seamlessly blends its ancient heritage with a modern cosmopolitan flair.
Despite all these changes that took place in the city, one thing about Paris stayed consistent throughout decades, if not centuries: It’s one of the world’s priciest cities with the most expensive real estate. Paris is facing a housing crisis, with a shortage of affordable housing that is making it difficult for many residents to find a place to live.
Nevertheless, the city of Paris has ambitious plans to increase its supply of affordable housing and make the city more accessible to all residents. Le Monde reports that the city’s goal is to reach 40 percent affordable housing by 2035, up from 22 percent in 2021.
“Do we want to make Paris a city that would be a citadel reserved for the privileged?” Paris Housing Commissioner Ian Brossat said, “Or do we want to make Paris a city that allows the people who run it to actually live there? That’s a choice we must make. Of course, it has a cost.”
Indeed, the French capital’s plans to turbo-charge affordable housing will require a significant investment in new construction and the renovation of existing buildings, such as the five following strategies.
More Social Housing Construction
Paris aims to create over 4,000 social housing units and an equal number of affordable housing units per year, ensuring that these housing options are available to middle-income households at least 20 percent below market rates.
To achieve this, the city will acquire vacant lots, negotiate with property owners, or take advantage of underutilized public land to secure sites for new social housing projects.
Expanding Intermediate Housing
Intermediate housing is a type of affordable housing for middle-income households. Paris plans to increase the supply of intermediate housing by several hundred units per year. The city is already working on identifying existing buildings that meet criteria for conversion to social housing, considering location, condition, and need for affordable housing.
Vacant Buildings to Become Affordable Housing
The city will identify and convert vacant buildings, such as old industrial complexes, office buildings, retail spaces, and abandoned apartments into cost-efficient housing. This will help to reduce the number of empty buildings in the city and provide much-needed housing for residents. These vacant properties will be renovated to meet residential standards, including repairs, interior updates, and amenity additions.
Promoting Mixed-income Development
The city will encourage the development of mixed-income housing projects, which combine affordable and market-rate units. This will help to create more inclusive communities to prevent ghettoization, urban poverty, and segregation.
To do so, Paris implements zoning regulations that mandate a mix of income levels within new developments, and offers incentives to developers such as tax benefits.
Financial Assistance to Homeowners
Paris offers a wide range of financial assistance programs to support low-income households in accessing and maintaining affordable housing. These programs include rent subsidies, moving assistance, rental deposit guarantees, homeownership loans, and renovation assistance.
Additionally, the city provides energy efficiency incentives, financial counseling, legal assistance, housing search assistance, and community outreach to ensure that low-income residents have access to safe, affordable, and sustainable housing.
Championing an Egalitarian Future in Paris Through Affordable Housing
In addition to these initiatives, the city is also working to improve the quality of existing affordable housing. This includes making repairs to buildings, improving accessibility for people with disabilities, and providing social services to residents.
The city’s plans for affordable housing are ambitious, but they are also necessary to ensure that Paris remains a livable city for all residents. By investing in affordable housing, the city can create a more inclusive and equitable community.