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Twenty years ago France passed a law that required cities to have a certain percentage of social housing or face penalties for failing to comply.
Since then the country’s most exclusionary cities and suburbs have seen a fivefold increase in the availability of social housing, according to a new study.
In December 2000, France adopted an ambitious new law meant to address the patterns of economic segregation that had left affordable housing concentrated heavily in lower-income, outlying suburban communities.
Solidarité et Renouvellement Urbain, or Urban Solidarity and Renewal (SRU), mandated that French municipalities ensure that at least 20 percent of their total housing stock be “social housing,” subsidized affordable housing restricted to lower-income residents.
After more than a decade of weak compliance by cities, France revised the law in 2013 to increase the requirement to 25 percent social housing and increase the financial penalties for failing to comply.
The amended law also included a threat: If communities didn’t start constructing social housing or converting existing buildings to social housing, the federal government would use eminent domain to do it for them.