On the Sidelines of French Society. Homelessness among Migrants and their Descendants

By Pascale Dietrich-Ragon, Madeleine Grieve

Although the percentage of foreigners among the homeless has risen sharply in the space of ten years, the specific characteristics of this population remain under-researched. This article analyses the social and housing trajectories of migrants and their descendants with no personal dwelling. How do they differ from their counterparts born in France? What specific position do immigrants hold in the temporary accommodation sector and what are the key differences within this group? The results of the French Homeless Survey (Enquête Sans-Domicile) conducted by INSEE and INED in 2012 show that migrants, descendants of migrants, and people from the “majority” population have distinct profiles, and that they do not have equal access to accommodation provided by assistance organizations. Owing to the presence of women and children among them, migrants are generally not left in the street, but they are often sent to emergency shelters where they are less likely to move on to permanent housing. Moreover, the unequal economic, cultural and social capital of the members of this group gives rise to differentials in access to accommodation and in their ability to exercise their rights.


  • homelessness
  • France
  • migration
  • descendants of migrants
  • shelters
  • insecure housing
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