It was February 1, 1954. The strangled voice of Abbé Pierre called out over the airwaves from Radio Luxembourg his famous cry for help: “Last night, a woman froze to death…”. The cry of the founder of Emmaüs will not resonate in a vacuum: in a few hours, five hundred million francs, tons of clothing and various products flow to the association. Requisitioned to centralize collection, the hall of the Orsay station in Paris is submerged. The movement will continue for more than a month. “The insurrection of kindness”, as Abbé Pierre calls the phenomenon, affects all of France.
Everyone, rich or poor, rentier or worker, hastens to contribute according to their means.
Seventy years later, the day after a cold snap which has no common measure with that of the winter of 1954, too many lives are still lost on the asphalt, for lack of roofs. The average age of street deaths is 49 years. This shows how damaging sleeping outside is. The number of homeless people has doubled over the last ten years, with an increased proportion of particularly vulnerable people such as women, families and unaccompanied minors.
115, the emergency call number for accommodation, is constantly saturated. Two-seater tents are popping up in the most unlikely places in cities.
Faced with this dramatic situation, would we be less generous than our elders? who responded to Abbé Pierre’s call? No. As proof, citizen initiatives are emerging everywhere, striving to compensate for the State’s lack of commitment to the issue of housing: here, Utopia56 offers individuals the opportunity to become solidarity hosts and welcome migrant families; there, Abri Cocoon grows tiny houses in urban areas to offer a bubble of security and warmth to the homeless… So many actions in which everyone can join in their own way to respond even today to the cry of Abbé Pierre and which, taken together, form , they too, a tsunami of generosity.