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French housing law change

May 18 2009
People will be able to sue local authorities for failing to provide suitable housing, says French PM The French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has declared a new law that will allow people to sue local authorities for failing to provide suitable housing. The announcement came after a delegation of top dogs from Paris visited Glasgow to understand how Scotland tries to reduce numbers of people living on the streets. The delegation met with Voluntary Housing, an organisation that covers community housing associations. The group also met with charity Shelter Scotland. As a result, M de Villepin said Paris will copy Scotland's legally enforceable right to housing, and he promised to introduce similar measures throughout France. The right to housing has become a huge issue in France, topping the list of social concerns in the upcoming presidential election, which will take place in April later this year. The issue came to the fore after a series of protests at the end of last year saw thousands of demonstrators take to the street, sleeping in tents throughout the French capital. Official statistics claim there are 86,000 people without permanent accommodation in the country, but non-governmental groups argue the real figure is much higher. As a result of the wide press attention and voter pressure, the presidential candidates - including the head of the centre-right party the Union for a Popular Movement, Nicolas Sarkozy, and socialist candidate Segolene Royal - have been forced to take a stance on the matter. Mr Sarkozy has promised to house anyone who does not want to be homeless within two years, while Ms Royal has made the fight against poverty one of the main themes of her campaign.