For example, if you are a student without significant income and have a valid resident permit, it is likely you can benefit. The amounts can be significant so get informed.
There is a highly developed social housing program in France, but the procedures to obtain such an accommodation can be very long and time-consuming. If you are in real difficulties, you can ask for emergency accommodation.
Housing financial assistance
There are a few types of financial assistance, available usually through CAF (Caisses d'Allocations Familiales), which is the French state assistance fund for families. The most common are APS (Allocation de Logement Sociale) and APL (Aide Personnalisée au Logement). The level of help depends on your income, type of housing and rent paid. In case of shared property, every tenant can benefit, but only his proportion of the rent. Each individual must apply separately.
For more information, refer to the CAF website: www.caf.fr (in French only) where you can find information, application forms and a listing of documents to submit with your application. You can also visit the nearest CAF office, but be aware that you may spend a few hours waiting.
- To be eligible, you need a rent contract with your name on it. If you share a flat, make sure your name is on the contract and the rent paid by you is clearly detailed.
- You will need a French translation of your Birth Certificate (Acte de naissance). This document cannot be older then three months. In most other countries it is however issued only once - when you are born - and has unlimited validity. French authorities sometimes do not accept this, in this case, get your Embassy to certify your document as having unlimited validity or ask for their help.
- Try to make sure you follow all instructions on the application. Fill in all forms completely and include all necessary supporting documents. It is very common to miss something from the long list of required documentation the first time (or more), so check carefully. It is also probable that you will find the CAF staff very inflexible, asking you to fully comply with even the smallest details. Be patient and don't try to get sympathy from French friends as they will point out this is to protect the generous French social system from abuse.
Social housing (HLM)
The French state has a well developed program of social accommodation (HLM, Hébergement à Loyer Modéré), which is attributed to families with low income. To be eligible, you must be legally resident in France and your annual post-tax household income must be below a certain level, depending on the number of people the household consists of and the particular region somebody lives in. The levels change each year.
This accommodation is very cheap, but supply is limited. Being eligible does not guarantee getting it and availability of HLM depends on the region. There are groups who have priority (these differ depending on the département), who usually include people:
- evicted from their home who are without a place to live
- handicapped people, large families, pregnant women, young people looking for the first accommodation
- obliged to moved due to their employment
- in sudden financial difficulties
The procedure to get HLM accommodation can be very long, especially if you are not in the priority group. For example, in Paris, it can take years. Applications can be made online. On the website vosdroits.service-public.fr you can find more information about applying for HLM. The request for social housing can be made here. Make sure you can provide the necessary identification and proof of income of the different members of the household.
Social Readjustment Centres (CHRS) exists in larger cites to provide emergency accommodation to people without a place to stay. However, we recommend you only consider this if you are desperate and in severe difficulties.