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In Paris, Tough Talk on Income Segregation

As is so often the case worldwide, many Parisians live in communities distinguished by class. The city government wants to change that by inserting thousands of public housing units in wealthy central districts.
May 31, 2016, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Luciano Mortula

Like many European cities (and, increasingly, American ones), Paris has a rich city center surrounded by less wealthy outer districts. Most of the city's affordable housing is concentrated in the east, and segregation by wealth is becoming a problem for the current city government. In response, Paris "is building a large amount of [affordable units] between now and 2020, with one significant twist. Almost 5,000 of these new affordable units will be built in the city's center and west, giving future tenants some of the wealthiest neighbors in all France." 

On top of that, Feargus O'Sullivan writes, "Paris hopes to create 7,000 new public housing units every year between now and the next elections in 2020. Given that only 5,000 units in total are planned for especially prosperous areas across this period, that means that most new units will still be created in the less wealthy east, where most of the city's public housing is already concentrated." 

Paris Habitat Commissioner Ian Brossat maintains that the city has the budget to acquire expensive central properties and build affordable housing, saying, "I am very clearly taking on the political objective of rebalancing [the city]. We want to avoid having two Parises, even if it is expensive to do so."

An admirable goal, but vested neighborhood interests and the gravitational pull of central districts on real estate money will be hard to beat. 

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Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in CityLab
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