Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When housing is a citizen's right

Yesterday I was watching a documentary about housing crisis in France. It strikes me that in France, housing is a right, that you can sue the government if you have no where to stay. This law was enacted in 2006.

Following the journalist, we visited two families who live in hotel room.

First family:
Divorced with 2 children, at age 25, she works as a secretary for a doctor and earns around 850 euros per month. To rent an apartment, one needs to have a salary which is 3 months more than the rent. It is impossible to find an apartment for under 500 in Paris, so she has to stay in an hotel, which costs her 50 euros a night, 1500 per month.

Where does she get money to pay for the hotel? Government! It pays her 900 per month for living in an hotel, plus 800 euros from another agency to pay for the childcare. At the end, she has only 200-300 a month to spend after paying the childcare and hotel.

Second family:
A family of 6 live in an hotel apartment, subleased by someone, with a rental of 2770 per month. That apartment has no toilet and has only one room. Actually, someone rented that apartment for around 700, and earn a total of 2000 euros by subleasing it. And who is paying? Again the government!

Conclusion: This is so absurd! Now I know why the French government has big deficit even though they collected so much money from the tax payers. I told hubby that he is paying for all these housing.

It is ideal that housing is a right. You can be out of work, have a bunch of children, and the government owes you housing. Of course it becomes a crisis, as the government simply couldn't build as much housing to satisfy everyone. Then they pay for people to stay in hotel, another big hole for the budget.

Looking back in Malaysia, I think we have a huge housing crisis if you want to use the French standard. Take the first family, in Malaysia, the woman would have left her children with her family, and she will rent a room somewhere in Paris. Or she will simply move to a city that is less expensive. As for the second case, well we have seen many family in low cost housing areas, where 8 family members share the two available rooms. Government paying for hotel, this is simply absurd.


  1. Anonymous5:17 PM that why france is not doing well economically compared to UK? :P

  2. I pray that US will not end up like France !
    Alvin, UK is not much better .

  3. In my opinion these social kindness are sucking too much money from the government. The citizens and the companies have too much burden in paying the taxes that it becomes more and more difficult to compete internationally. But if you talk to some French they will tell you at least in France the government help the poor. In US the poors are left out suffering.

  4. Anonymous10:25 PM

    Actually, you should not trust what is saying the TV documentary. If that was completly true, France would not have homeless people, but there is.

    About deficit, you should look at the US one that is not baad too, even the English one. In booth case, there is a deficit but at least in France, people does't die because they don't have money to get a health insurance or because the insurance doen't want to pay.

    Compared with France, it is right easier in US to find an accomodation, also easier in Malaysia.

    About the competivity, France is in world second place for Labor-hour productivity, before US, UK and Malaysia. So, it is not so bad.

    Finally, each country has its own specificities. Some things are good, some other one are not good. These countries have different cultures, it is difficult to say "it is absurd". A lot of things look absurd when you are staying in a foreign country, but it can be only a cultural specificity. For exemple, the governemental racial discrimination in Malaysia is absurd for me, and I think that a lot of Chinese or Indian would agree. Some things are a strange too in US for a French, but it is only a different culture...

  5. ViennoisCoffe,

    I think there are some true from the documentary, as they have shown how the woman went to see the minister who handles the housing issues.

    Again, this is simply my personal opinion. I think it is healthy to voice out and show my point of view with some friends, even with some French. Some of the French I talked to, they didn't realize the situation was absurd until I told them about situation in other countries. When you live in the country, you don't realize how thing can be done differently until someone tells you otherwise.

    I won't critic you when you said the discrimination in Malaysia is absurd, as I totally share the same opinion. Actually, only when living overseas, I realized how absurd the situation is. You, as a French, living overseas and see thing done differently, won't you want to share this with your friends and tell them that maybe this is wrong and we could do this differently?

    About the labor-hour productivity, my husband (a French) told me that he didn't know how this could be achieved. He worked in USA before and he could totally tell that how unmotivated and slow the French work compared to USA. Maybe this only happens in his sector, and in other sector French workers are more motivated.

    I just want to say, we should always voice out our sentiment and opinion and have constructive discussion. Each time I discuss these type of issues with my French classmates, they acknowledge the problems, but all they did was shrugged their shoulders, and said they knew it was absurd, mais c'est la France! Les français n'aiment pas le changement!

  6. BE,

    I wonder how long can the government help the people if the government is bankrupt ?

    I personally has to disagree with you about the poor in America. I don't think in the US, anyone can be poor if they are willing to work hard :).

    I don't see any hard working poor but lots of lazy poor !

    I like to point out about your misconcept about America poor not having assistance in the US. In fact, there are more assistance programs and non profit organizations in the US than any countries in the surface of the earth.

    In our community, there are community college and university which offer tons of scholarships, federal grant assistances, private loans to students. These are resources that are available to eradicate poverty (education is a tool and skill to better living standard in society). But, if people do not want to help themselves, how could others help them ?

    Many single mother women who had decided to go back to school after they felt that they wanted to have better life had a lot of resources available to them. And we even have "display housewife" organization that help women who do not have skills and education to go back to society to work. The organization provide free education, housings and even living expenditures for these women to get necessary skills and education so they can be an independent woman.

    Not only they can get Federal grants (they don't even have to pay back), they can have food stamps, free milk products for the baby and free day care.

    Food stamps are available to anyone whose income fall under a certain poverty level. I often see a lot of people who buy food in the grocery store with used food stamp wear better clothings and drive better car than me. And also the free milk products for new born.

    And the old have medicare and medicaid. One of the old ladies from our Indonesian fellowship recently was taken ill and had to have a lot of medical treatments including an oxygen tanks for her O2 supply. She told me medicare pays for every of her medical expense. She is living in a 2 bedroom government apartment where she only pays $80 a month.

    In our nursing program, we are given scholarship without payment, $5k-$6k each year, government forgiveness loan (loan that you don't have to pay back), walk in bonus ranges from $10-$15k and guess what, not everyone are hard working enough to pick up a pen and pencil to fill in the application ! And I consider that as free money.

    No, American do not have any hard working poor but there are a lot of lazy poor.

    No, life in American is bountiful if you are hard working. I am a living example of someone who lives in a country where there are bountiful of resources. To achieve success , you need only half of what it takes if I would have live in European country where there are not so many resources around. Sky is the limit for those who are hard working.

    I can substantiate my statement with all the living example :look at the co-founder of Google, you think he can achieves such success if he continues to live in Eastern Europe ? Look at the Yahoo founder (Chinese guy) and the cofounder of Youtube (Chinese guy too), do you think they can be where they are now if not in America ? I doubt it.

    No, despite all that is going on with America deficits and news, I still find this is the country with lots of opportunity !

    I am sure you share the same view with me. I am sure you probably would have a higher standard of living in US. Of course, life is not all about money, a good life partner is more important for us woman, and I can testify that.


  7. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Bee Ean said, I worked in few countries too. and I saw differents models. Some look absurd in France, even in UK or in Malaysia for exemple. But as I repeat, it is cultural, these countries have their own specificities and we have to accept it. The French system can be absurd in few ways but you can do the same analyse for all the countries, even USA.

    I worked in few countries too and I don't share your point of view. I think you thinking by a "selective perception", you see everything "wrong" in France and everything "right" in USA, it is quite obvious on your blog. But you compare only what you want and you don't see when something is good in France and absurd in USA or somewhere else.

    About your friends who don't leave France and who don't realise how absurd is the French system, it is right that to work in a foreign country opens your eyes and some French specificities look strange. But they would probably understand that a lot of things look absurd anywhere else. It's why, now, I am very carreful when I consider something like "absurd" because it can be a cultural thing that I don't understand.

    Of course, I share my foreign exerience with my friends. But I don't do it in the same way like you "everything USA is wonderful and everything in France is absurd". I tell them that it is "different". I don't select the fact to prove than a system is wonderfull somewhere and absurd somewhere else.

  8. Anonymous9:37 AM

    I like the French social system and how the government help the poor but there are people who cheat and all - like every where in the world. It's sad. I alway say to my hubby that the French Government is too kind and the system needs to be fine-tuned so that the really poor gets aids and not those cheaters. The family and the single mother can choose to live in the suburb of Paris which is cheaper than living in Paris itself. It is a choice they make and unfortunately the government is obliged to help them out.

  9. ViennoisCoffe,

    After reading your comment, I went to check on my blog and I disagreed that I portrait everything wrong in France and everything right in USA in this blog. For example in "English name French pronunciation" on January 25, I commented that I found it sweet to have name for male and female in France. If you go to category of French administration or French medical care, I did praise the medical system and some nice customer service. If you read carefully, I discretely show how nice and lovely my French man and family are to me, which is the ultimate reason I stay on my struggle in this country.

    Another point, please correct me if everything I said here is wrong, in the sense that I created untrue facts or cheated. I respect you to not use the word "absurd" with any country else, but this is purely my personal opinion, and I feel that I have the right to express it according to my own sentiment. I do not understand why you are upset with it, as when I discuss with my French friends, they didn't find it offensive, but rather trying to think why they actually accept the fact and don't do anything to change.

    Since I only lived in Malaysia and USA before coming to France, I used them to compare some issues in France. I'm sorry if unconsciously I talked everything good about USA. Of course there are many things that I disagree about that country, one of time being the war, that was absurd and I did express this opinion in my American friends blog. In fact, I defended France in a lot of aspects in others' blogs.

    Another thing I want to point out that influences my judgment is that I have never dreamt of living in France. I was never fascinated about the art, the language, the history or lifestyles that some people fancy about. So, if I put my efforts and nothing coming out of it, I asked myself why should I stay? The world is so big, why France? So, these observations and analysis are one form to convince myself to stay/leave/better understand this country by sharing with others and hoping other prove me wrong.

    You talked about specifications of culture in a country and people should accept it. My question, why should we accept it when we know it is wrong? Take Malaysia for example, we do realize it is absurd to have the racial discrimination, and some people are trying to change it (example recent Indian protest). Is accepting the only thing we can do? France has 9% unemployment, should I accept it that looking for job is tough as this is France?