For seasonal workers, the housing hassle

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In and around La Baule, summer workers are unable to find accommodation. A call is launched to the inhabitants.

For seasonal workers, the housing galley

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Imagine a seaside resort as prestigious as La Baule without its top-of-the-range hotels, its restaurants of the same standing, its bars or even its many shops… It's hard to get an idea, and yet the lack of seasonal workers could well transform the self-proclaimed the most beautiful bay in the world in a real tourist desert when, usually, in summer, the city goes from 17,000 to 180,000 inhabitants! In other words, without a workforce, the entire local economy is threatened. “Last August, some restaurateurs were forced to close on Mondays and Tuesdays because they didn't have enough staff,” recalls Franck Louvrier, the mayor.

At the time, France (and much of the world) was just beginning to recover from the Covid crisis. It was the time of a certain freedom regained but also of a serious questioning for the usual candidates for these jobs of a few months on the coast. Unmotivating salaries, overtime paid little or not at all, schedules often incompatible with a social or family life…, even today, the grievances remain numerous and the consequences are clear as this new summer season approaches: by weariness or change of workers, the tourism sector has lost no less than 200,000 jobs in France in a few months. And now, to this crisis of vocations is added that of housing. Because in most areas popular with holidaymakers, employees can no longer find accommodation without swallowing up a good part of their (already meager) remuneration.

“A seasonal worker from La Baule, I welcome him to my home! »

This dilemma, the city council has just recently taken up with the operation “A seasonal worker from La Baule, I welcome him to my home!” “. This is an appeal to citizens to rent their vacant room(s). Conditions for establishing a proper lease: the rent must not exceed €250 per month (or €15 per night), the room must be at least 9 square meters (for one person), and the tenant must have access to a bathroom and a kitchen. “We put the seasonal worker, his employer and his host around the table”, assures Franck Louvrier. Problem, the hosts in question are still too rare according to the association Presqu'île Habitat Jeunes (APHJ), which oversees this whole operation on the scale of the territory which includes fourteen municipalities from St-Nazaire to Le Croisic via Guérande, Pornichet and, therefore, La Baule. There, if about fifteen seasonal workers had already moved in with the locals, the station is still looking for 180 other workers. Where are they going to live? In the private rental stock? Impossible, the rates are unaffordable in high season. As for the 58 places in one of the three young housing residences in the sector, they are already all occupied.

If a real estate program with five other residences is to come out of the ground in the next few years (which would double the accommodation capacity), we must, in the meantime, find solutions immediately. “Some have already signed contracts and we have nothing for them,” laments Naïs Tilleau, socio-educational worker at the APHJ. At the moment, I need a good twenty housing units for June, July and August, so for now, but I have only found four.

“We've been hosting young people for a long time”

Four beds, with the same octogenarian from Guérande who has agreed to provide an apartment and a studio, fitted out on the floor of her house for her own children when they visit her. “We've been hosting young people for a long time, and we've always liked it,” smiles this retired National Education worker who can hardly be suspected of renting these premises for the money: when you deduct the costs (water, electricity, etc.) payable by the owner, there is not much left of the limited rent paid at the end of the month. No, here, the approach is purely altruistic but also reassuring. With a severely disabled husband, such a presence has a reassuring side and this is also what the APHJ wants to highlight to convince individuals not to go through a rental platform. “It creates social ties, confirms Naïs Tilleau. In addition, we visit all the accommodations and also meet the young people.

The scheme is open to young people aged 15 (in apprenticeship) to 30 years old, and is expected to operate year-round.