PARIS — Walking home one night several years ago in a suburb of Paris, Raphaël Marre was horrified to see a group of migrants and asylum seekers sleeping on the street outside his home.
Why wasn’t the government housing them? he wondered. After witnessing the same scene for several weeks, he and his wife decided to do it themselves, signing up with a nonprofit that links migrants with people in the Paris region willing to open up their homes for a few nights.
“That was a triggering moment,” Mr. Marre said. “We thought, ‘This can’t be happening, we have to do something.’”
Five years after a migrant crisis that convulsed Europe, France is still struggling to accommodate the thousands of people who have applied for asylum in France. And Mr. Marre is still welcoming them into his home.
France, and much of Europe, was facing a large influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, driven from their homes by war and economic deprivation.
introduced an initiative that would create 4,500 new spaces in 2021. However, it is “still far from enough to meet the needs,” said Ms. Le Coz.
France’s struggle to accommodate migrants and asylum seekers has become particularly conspicuous in the streets of the Paris region. In what has become a seemingly never-ending cycle, the police regularly clear out hundreds of migrants and raze their tents and shacks, often offering them no alternative but to move somewhere else.
Utopia 56 relies on a network of volunteers, private citizens, parishes and private companies that have sheltered nearly 3,000 people during the pandemic.
Xavier Lachaume, 31, and his wife have hosted eight families in their apartment in Saint-Denis, a northern Paris suburb, since January. For now, visitors stay in their spare bedroom for a couple of nights, which they plan to turn into a room for a baby they expect in coming months.