Covid-19: Organisations and aid to help

Reader question: I have lived in France for over 20 years but due to the fall in value of the pound and the loss of small part-time work - cooking for others - I will have difficulty with my rental payment this month. I am 82, fit and well, but am in the so-called 'vulnerable' classification. I am in the French health system and don't want to go back to UK but my situation is going to be very difficult for at least two - three months. Are there organisations that can help or advise me? I live near Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes.

We have made inquiries and there are two organisations we suggest you contact for help.

One is the Riviera Lifeline which covers the Var and the Alpes-Maritimes and helps the elderly to remain independent at home for as long as possible. Normally its volunteers perform housework, cook meals and assist where needed. At present their work is limited by the Covid-19 guidelines but they are shopping for and keeping in touch with their seniors. They do give grants in certain situations. Their President Debbie Cortey has told Connexion they will always do their best to assist anyone elderly who rings them.

You can contact them via their website rivieralifeline.org, email at info@rivieralifeline.org or phone 04 89 82 68 51.

The second organization is the British Charitable Fund, based in Paris, which has been helping British residents living in hardship throughout France since 1823.

The charity gives top-up long or short-term monthly grants to help with outgoings such as rent, electricity, food and heating. It sometimes also pays for essential repairs, basic household equipment, clothing, medical expenses, education and adult training to help someone get back into the job market.

The BCF considers each application for help based on the individual’s circumstances. The charity’s Hon Secretary, Frances Meadows has said they can make emergency grants in some circumstances.

You can contact BCF by email at office@bcfparis.org or by phone on 01 47 59 07 69, and see the website: britishcharitablefundparis.org.

The BCF does say that people should also apply for any form of assistance to which they might be entitled from official sources first as their function is to provide discretionary ‘top-up’ support.

The government makes it clear on its site gouv.fr that there are no special provisions in place in connection with Covid-19 in relation to private rental agreements.

The advice is to contact the landlord as soon as possible to see if you can arrange a temporary deduction and/or a delay in payments.

If that fails the advice is to ring your local Adil, Agence Départementale  d’Information sur le Logement which you can find at anil.org. This is the official public organisation which gives free advice on all housing issues, and you can ask for advice in relation to your particular situation.

Among the aids offered by departmental agencies, the FSL (Fonds de solidarité pour le logement), amounting to nearly €350 million, can be used for most vulnerable tenants. Each case is studied by the agencies to determine if the tenant is eligible for this aid.  

People on low income due to the confinement period can apply for the APL, aide personnalisée au logement to help towards their accommodation costs or the social benefit for people on low income, the RSA (revenue de solidarité active) both via the site caf.fr.

You can do a simulation on the site to see whether you would be eligible for either the APL or the RSA. The RSA is a benefit which guarantees a minimum income, €560 for a single person and then more depending on family make-up. There is no age limit and you do not have to be working to receive RSA, therefore it is open to those on a low retirement pension.

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