Our group has been working with homeless migrants in Bourg-en-Bresse for several years, providing them with material support and campaigning to ensure that their situation is understood.
A homeless family moved into one of our disused sales areas in October 2015, it hadn’t been used for over a year… we are now officially classified as an “occupied-consenting” landlord as we have not made a complaint about this.
We now have more than 60 people organising their survival on our premises. The site has been given the nickname “the shacks of Brou” as each family has built a shack inside the 2 hangars.
We are an active, dynamic member of the ‘collectif Solidarité Migrants’ [Solidarity for Migrants Collective] with whom we organise the following: material aid and food support, registering children in schools, lobbying the authorities as well as administrative and legal support.
The space will never represent truly dignified housing but we are doing all we can to improve the living conditions here – installing solar panels to produce electricity, insulating the shacks and putting in wooden pans, improving the hygiene spaces (building extra showers and toilets), etc.
We participated in the creation of the association ‘100 pour 1 toit 01’ [100 in Favour of a Roof 01] which helps people gain access to decent housing. We have enough money to house 3 families for 2 years and we are currently looking for housing opportunities.
We are living by the idea that we can build a peaceful world with universal citizenship by helping those who are suffering the most. The companions, some of whom have experienced exile and extreme precarity, are helping these migrants who represent the most vulnerable group in France today given that they are not protected by common law. The idea is to always build things together… unfortunately we are back in the same situation as in Emmaus’ early days – the companions leaving in the morning to help homeless families build shacks.
Companions, volunteers and group leaders, the entire community is involved in different parts of the work, which includes: picking out objects such as blankets, clothes and crockery in the sorting areas, collecting pallets to provide heat, bringing food to the location, building the shacks, sharing fun moments with the families, etc.
Many of the group’s members have signed up to the association ‘100 pour 1 toit 01’.
We have received support from Emmaus France, the Abbé Pierre Foundation and the association ‘Architectes Sans Frontières’ [Architects without Borders].
We are looking for landlords or providers of social housing for the association ‘100 pour 1 toit 01’.
Over the last 3 years we have been helping people who have no housing, on either a permanent or temporary basis, who are asylum seekers or who have left the CADA (Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers). To help these people and to lobby the authorities Emmaus has been leading action on the ground and has created, alongside other organisations and citizens, the ‘collectif Solidarité Migrants’ [Solidarity for Migrants Collective].
Over time we must have supported 20-120 people. The collective has led citizens’ requisitions to provide housing for these people and has also provided them with the legal support they need to ensure their rights are respected. The Learning without Frontiers network has been focussing on ensuring minors are educated.
Emmaus has always provided the material aid required (mattresses, blankets, essential furniture, etc.) as well as food (daily food staples brought from the Food Bank). The ability to meet these urgent needs has helped Emmaus have legitimacy in our lobbying work and to be seen by the authorities as an important contact.
If everyone makes a small effort
They will be able to leave the slum and have a roof over their heads
100 POUR 1 TOIT (100 for 1 Roof)
To offer an alternative which would allow homeless migrants to have access to dignified housing
100 people giving €6 a month to pay for housing
Taking action and fighting for freedom of movement, forever and always!!!... in order to reduce the risks of people becoming stuck in places where their rights are violated!
We can’t exactly say it’s a success to be organising access to basic needs for people living in France in the 21st century…
However, the creation of the association ‘100 pour 1 toit 01’ is a success in that it represents a significant mobilisation of citizens.
We hope that the Movement looks at these cross-cutting issues such as migrants’ access to rights in Europe (freedom of movement, residence, labour) and the winter truce for migrants already in a country given that accommodation centres cannot put people who have been refused asylum out on the streets in winter!