Bernard Devert, real estate professional who became a priest, is the founder of the Habitat et Humanisme association. Every day he uses his talents as a businessman to search for housing for people in trouble.
How does your initiative fall within the current context?
Today, the housing crisis is not a crisis affecting offer, even if there is still a lack of housing to cover needs. Due to the dramatic rise in real estate prices, the real problem is finding affordable housing. This is particularly flagrant in the Ile de France where prices are soaring while public subsidies are dropping. The economic context is very tense and we have extremely narrow margins for manoeuvre to support our public, who are very fragile people looking for very low rents. While we’re not there to make money of course, there’s no question of losing it either at the risk of compromising the future of our projects. We have a duty to act with great professionalism to find financial balance.
Is that where Altarea Cogedim’s "skill sponsorship" intervenes...?
Yes. This new component of the partnership that links us to Altarea Cogedim is a first. We appreciate being able to call on professionals seasoned in financing packages, having those "in the know" help us and support us with our campaigns. Of course, this support is not quantifiable, unlike the financial support that Altarea offers us elsewhere by financing two full time jobs in the Ile de France and by providing substantial financial aid to build our houses – like the Casa Jaurès in Lyon this year. But it is a key factor in effectively carrying out projects. The other quality of this skill transfer is that it involves a greater number of Altarea Cogedim employees and opens up new opportunities like our employees taking part in sustainable development awareness sessions organised by the company.
How would you describe this social sponsorship?
This sponsorship is exemplary and exceptional thanks to its long-term footing, the company’s involvement, the scale of the financial aid and the diversity of the policies.
This year what do you retain among this range of initiatives?
The events and communication campaigns to introduce the Habitat et Humanisme initiatives to shopping centres are essential. Today, insecurity is increasing and touches populations that were spared two or three years ago. Saying that solutions exist, not simply being indignant or defeatist is the first step, and these initiatives introduced by Altarea Cogedim are part of this dynamic. Going out to meeting places to meet these people at first hand is about fighting both against the indifference of some and the solitude of others.