HLM (pronounced [aʃ ɛl ɛm]) is the acronym of Habitation à
Loyer Modéré ("rent-controlled housing"), a form of private or
public housing in France, Switzerland, Algeria, Senegal, and Quebec.
HLMs constitute 16% of all housing in France. There are
approximately four million such residences, housing an estimated 10
million people. The standard of living in the
HLM housing projects
is often the lowest in the country.
72% of HLMs built before 2001 (and 95% of those built between 2001 and
2011) are small buildings or individual houses. The average size of
buildings is 20 apartments. Construction of
HLM is mainly financed
by funds collected on Livret A, a type of savings account regulated by
the Caisse des dépôts et consignations. In 2011, the French
people have placed 280 billion euros on this type of savings
HLM should not be confused with public housing in France; many HLM
organizations are completely private, although many are also public.
2 References in popular culture
4 External links
HBM of rue Jean Fautrier in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, France.
HLM in the area of Planoise, in Besançon.
See also: Public housing in France
HLM system was created in 1950 in response to France's postwar
housing crisis. The low level of construction during and between the
two world wars, the rural exodus that had started to take place in
France (directed mainly at Île-de-France, the
Paris region) and the
baby boom, contributed to a deficit of an estimated four million
residences. Eugène Claudius-Petit, the Minister for Reconstruction
and Urbanisation, promoted a scheme of massive construction of
socially subsidised residences to address this problem. The new system
took its foundations from the HBM (habitation à bon marché –
"inexpensive housing") system, which had been created in 1889 and
financed mainly by charitable sources rather than the state.
The level of social construction did not significantly rise until
Pierre Courant launched an ambitious plan in 1956, warranted
by the increased rate of immigration from France's former colonies.
Courant's plan had the goal of construction of at least 240,000
residences each year, and it was an unexpected success: from 1956 on,
there were more than 300,000 new residences built annually, with a
good number of them HLM. In 1964, there were 95,000 new HLM
apartments. The residences were often constructed in large complexes,
by le chemin de grue ("the way of the crane"). The new, large
apartment buildings were perfectly rectangular, to allow a crane to
roll along a track and place components on both sides of the building
simultaneously, saving both time and effort.
The greatest increase in the number of HLMs came in the late 1960s and
early 1970s, when many planned communities, or ZUP (zones à urbaniser
en priorité: "priority urbanisation zones") were constructed. They
were built mostly in the suburbs of Paris. A total of 195 ZUP were
created, producing over two million new, mostly HLM, residences.
The emphasis shifted to improving the standard of living in the
residences already in existence. In 1968, for example, only 41% of the
HLM apartments had toilet and sanitary facilities. By the end of the
1970s, the figure had risen to about 80%. New
HLM sites, with more
rooms per residence, were built in smaller cities and towns, and
numerous programmes were launched to combat poverty, unemployment and
delinquency in ZUP communities. In 2001, each
HLM residence had, on
average, 2.4 persons living in it (compared to 3.2 in 1954), four
rooms (three in 1954), and 96% of all
HLM apartments had toilet and
sanitary facilities, compared to only 10% in 1954.
References in popular culture
HLM high-rise estates, or cités HLM, are often referenced in French
popular culture, as they are known for their enduringly high rates of
poverty and unemployment as well as the concentration of first and
second-generation immigrants in the communities. Many, if not most,
French hip hop
French hip hop artists come from the ZUP around Paris,
including Sniper, 113, and Kery James.
Rohff is known for his songs
portraying life in the HLMs. The Tryo hit "L'hymne de nos campagnes"
begins: Si tu es né dans une cité HLM..., "If you were born in a
HLM..." (Mamagubida, 1998).
British Sea Power
British Sea Power also references HLMs in
their song "Living Is So Easy."
The popular singer
Renaud wrote the song "Dans mon HLM" talking about
life in HLMs and describing the typical neighbors you could find there
back in the eighties.
In the postwar period, the
HLM program was nearly synonymous with
brutalist high-rise apartment blocks.
Public housing in France
Ville nouvelle ("new town")
Housing Development Board
Housing Development Board (Singapore)
Council Housing (UK)
^ a b c d 10 idées reçues sur les
HLM Archived 2013-11-26 at the
Wayback Machine., Union sociale pour l'habitat, February 2012
^ Mathias Thépot, Où va vraiment l'argent du Livret A ?, La
Tribune, February 22, 2012
^ Les Français confient 280 milliards d'euros au livret A et au LDD,
La Tribune, 21 october 2011
Les organismes d'habitation à loyer modéré at Cour des Comptes