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One million square meters of unoccupied Parisian attic space may be turned into housing

Commonly called chambres de bonne — or maids’ rooms — thousands of small properties lie empty under Parisian roofs. The City of Paris plans to buy these spaces and turn them into private or social housing.

The City of Paris has turned its attention towards the capital’s roofs, or rather, what lies directly underneath them. A recent study by the Paris Urban Planning Agency (APUR) has revealed that of the 114,400 “maids’ rooms” that exist in the capital, over 85 % of them are unoccupied. This equates to over one million square meters of vacant space.

Deputy mayor of Paris Ian Brossat wants to convert this unused space into private or social housing, according to a City of Paris press release. He plans to acquire these small rooms — which measure between 5 and 14 square meters on average — and renovate them in order to make them inhabitable. This would help increase the supply of affordable housing in Paris.

These small spaces are mostly found on the top floors of freestone nineteenth-century Haussmanian buildings, where they were once used as service chambers. Unsurprisingly, they are predominantly located in high-end neighborhoods in the west half of the capital. Almost 90% of these rooms are found in just eight of the city’s 20 arrondissements: the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th and 17th.

According to the report, half of these spaces measure less than nine square meters, which is the legal minimum that can be rented out. Therefore, the city plans to group them together when possible, in order to create livable units of a sufficient size. The Multiloc system, which provides financial aid to owners needing to renovate vacant apartments in order to put them on the rental market, will be one of the tools used in this development program.

This incentive is seen as a way of rebalancing the housing offer between the east and west of the capital, as well as contributing to the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo’s goal of “creating 10,000 housing units per year, with at least 7,000 of them being social housing,” says Ian Brossat.

The first results of a further study on the subject are expected for early 2016.

Photo credit: Flickr / Panoramas

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