They set up their tents aboard the Seine River right in front of Notre Dame de Paris. That was Saturday morning. 250 tents for the homeless were set up with the assistance of Don Quixote, an association that aids homeless people in Paris (known as SDF) Sans Domicile Fixe.
That happened Saturday morning (December 14). By afternoon, the police had arrived to dismantle the tent camp. In the melee, one of the Don Quixote activists fell in the Seine River. When one of the policemen tried to fish him out, rather than accept the help, the activist figured a way out of the water on his own (according to a Figaro newspaper reporter on location).
This is an ongoing story since last year, when a similar tent camp was set up along the St. Martin Canal. At that time, France was looking forward to presidential elections – and election hopefuls made their way to the campsite to have their pictures taken – looking concerned.
As a result of last year’s promises – to provide stable lodging for approximately 27,000 people, the end result was closer to 14,000.
So, how do French people feel about the plight of the homeless? Angry. If you read some of the comments to today’s Le Figaro story, you’ll find that there are the homeless who make noise – and the homeless who try to work through the system with dignity. And those are the people who are really ANGRY with those that try to push ahead for lodging ahead of those who have waited patiently.
So, the question is, do people have a RIGHT to safe, clean, affordable housing? Even if you’re not working?