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French Homeless Make Paris Home

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French Homeless Make Paris Home

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French Homeless Make Paris Home

French Homeless Make Paris Home

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Like many European cities, Paris is trying to deal with the issue of homelessness. Over the last few months, groups of homeless people have created small villages of tents along the Seine, and around the French capital.

DON GONYEA, Host:

Over the last few months, groups of homeless people have created small villages of tents along the River Seine and around the French capital. It's part of a campaign to draw attention to the homeless, as Anita Elash reports from Paris.

ANITA ELASH: Unidentified Man: (Speaking foreign language)

ELASH: Patrick David is the vice president of Medecins du Monde.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE TENT SETTLEMENT)

PATRICK DAVID: Now we are sure that living in the street kills people. So, the next step was to show this poverty. When you have one man living on the ground, it's not so visible. People can turn their head. They don't - nobody sees him. If you put a tent, it makes that visible and you have to give your point of view about that.

ELASH: Mr. Xavier Emmanuelli (samusocialdeParis): (Through translator) The more tents you distribute, the more people will buy their own or neighbors will donate them, and that forms a real conglomeration of tents in places that aren't meant for it. They also form groups. You see organizations emerging with leaders, alcohol, and all that. So it's harder for us to get access to them.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE TENT SETTLEMENT)

ELASH: There are said to be between two and 15 thousand homeless in Paris. Bertrand Delanoë has asked for funding for 5,000 new spaces in temporary shelters. One of the street-dwellers, who would only give his name as Rod, says he's been homeless for six years. He sent up his tent three weeks ago and expects that it might take awhile before anybody moves.

ROD: (Through translator) The more of us there are sleeping here the less police can do about it. The social services brought us mattresses so that we would be comfortable. And they are happy because we don't make any trouble. Now everyone is happy.

ELASH: For NPR News, I'm Anita ELASH, in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GONYEA: This is NPR News.

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