"It's crazy how, between four walls, it's so hot," said Henri, 15, to himself, on the street for a few days. It is by pronouncing these words that we understand his story. Naomi Zara Lade has lived in France for twenty years, her son Henri was born there. They have their papers, are in order. However, they have been living on the street since the beginning of 2023. Henri cannot go to school, because he needs a domicile, a fixed address. "Even I can't work. Even if I have a job now, how am I going to leave it? I can't have peace of mind, even though he's 15," says Naomi.
It is this complex daily life that Camille Courcy, journalist and director specializing in "difficult terrain", recounts in her report for Brut, broadcast in February 2023, after meeting the little family in the streets of Paris. It's January, the wind is blowing, the people walking the streets are cold.
"Can I put my hood on?" Naomi asks as if permission is required. Children are crying, some have been waiting for a warm night for three days. Henri is content to eat a salad, because for him, that's enough, that's already it. Naomi laughs, she laughs hard, she laughs well – a smile and her son are enough for her: “I never give up, always positive. My joy is me, and nothing and no one can take that away from me. »
A life of anxiety
Camille Courcy explains that this situation is due to the saturation of the emergency accommodation number (115), and that it is therefore the associations that take over. Every evening at 6 p.m., on the forecourt of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, the Utopia 56 association, which welcomes dozens of homeless families, passes by to give places for a night shelter. Some families, with children a few months old, wait for hours.
In 2017, Emmanuel Macron declared that he was going to take the problem in hand: "I no longer want, by the end of the year, to have women and men in the streets. We are in 2023 and the number of homeless children has doubled in ten years. In France, it is 42,000, including more than 1,500 on the street, according to Unicef France and Samusocial de Paris, in their report of October 10, 2022.
For a child, living on the streets, in the cold and with an empty stomach, also causes irreversible damage to development and mental health. They sign up for a life of anxiety, of low self-esteem, of insomnia, of insecurities, of depression: a life in fear that it will start again, in fear that it will continue. When the journalist asks them what they dream of, the children accommodated only answer one thing: “A house, with a park and a school next door. »
Faced with the pain of these families, Henri and his mother continue to think that they are not the most to be pitied. "I've never begged, I've always worked, but if you break down, it's over, you're hurt, you can't do anything more in life. We positive: tomorrow is another day,” says Naomi.
In their desperation, they take out pens, boxes. Red or pink, maybe it will be important for the daily protest at 6 p.m.: “We want housing! shouts Naomi, brandishing her sign. Since then, the town hall has given shelter to Henri, his mother and the other participants. Tomorrow will be another day.