Expelled From Her Home at 72, This Retiree is Forced to Live in Her Car

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Marie De Jesus Ribeiro, 72, lives in her car in Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine).

For a year, Marie De Jesus Ribeiro lives in her car, in Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine). While waiting for social housing, she does not intend to leave the municipality

A 1996 Nissan Micra, parked on a square of a damp, innocent car park, in the second basement of a building in downtown Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine).

On the back seat, a blanket covers the seats, a cushion trays on it. The trunk is full of shopping bags. They are not packets of pasta or frozen products that fill them, but only cakes, some books, clothes and blankets.

Because this car no longer circulates but serves as habitat. His occupant? Marie De Jesus Ribeiro, soon 72 years old. For almost a year, this retiree is forced to spend nights in his vehicle. How came the one who keeps saying that she has “always worked and paid taxes in France”? Story.

From Portugal to Puteaux

September 24, 2018. This is where the galley begins for Mary. After 20 years in an apartment she rented at 11 rue Parmentier, her owner announced her intention to sell the property. With her retirement, she can not afford to buy it back and explains that she did not ask the future buyer to continue renting “because it would not be in my price anyway. The world of this Portuguese native collapses, she who lives in Puteaux for 30 years. 

A new line is then written in a course of life already tumultuous: the end of studies from the age of 10 to take care of the house, the flight of the dictatorship in Portugal during his adolescence and the death of his husband in the 1980s. Now the former employee of a private clinic faces the street. With tears in her eyes, she remembers: “I find myself outside. I do not even want to believe that it can happen to me. ”

Steps taken since 2004

However, it is not for lack of having foreseen the blow. “I applied for HLM since 2004 saying ‘It takes 5-7 years to get one.’ So when I’m retired, I’ll have my home. Except that everything did not go as planned. Above all, in 14 years, the seventy year old says she has never received a proposal for social housing in her adopted city.

But the Housing Office Puteaux (OHP) does not hear it that way, ensuring that an apartment was proposed to him in 2018 in Puteaux, a year after a first proposal, Vaucresson (Hauts-de-France). The Seine).

Shortly after being put on the street, Marie was also offered an apartment in Villeneuve-la-Garenne (Hauts-de-Seine). But unthinkable for her to leave her ties, even to go a dozen kilometres a little further north. She justifies her choice: 

I do not want to leave Puteaux. I think I have the right, at age 72, to choose to live in the city where I lived for 30 years.

The mayor does not answer her directly

To be noticed, Marie has her habits: she spends all her afternoons at the town hall of Puteaux, “without making any noise not to disturb”, history, in particular, to show to Joëlle Ceccaldi-Raynaud, the mayor (LR) from the community. An edile to whom she writes “very often. […] But she does not have time to listen to me or to receive me. ”

However, in a letter addressed to Constance the Grip, member of the 6th district of Hauts-de-Seine who had questioned her on the fate of Mary, the elected explains: »we advised Madame Jesus to accept any proposal of housing that would be made to him “. Adding: “we are making every effort to ensure that the file of Ms Jesus is not blocked [following his refusal to accommodate in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, ed].” And to conclude:

“The various refusals of Mrs. Marie Jesus unnecessarily complicated a situation that should have been settled for a long time already. But I am hopeful that a solution will be found quickly.”

A minister asks the prefect

While she also refused the proposal of his daughter to join her abroad, the septuagenarian has tried everything for the whole while writing to the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, getting an answer via the cabinet of Jacques Mezard. The then Minister of Cohesion of the Territories seized the prefect of Hauts-de-Seine, “asking him to study your file and to keep you directly informed of the result. ”

Last November, the retiree, priority in the Dalo (Right to housing opposable), was also received by the director of the Housing Office of Puteaux: 

He said to me: ‘There, I can not give you anything to Puteaux since there is none. But I will ask the neighboring communities to relocate you. And when they need it, I’ll give them to Puteaux. I replied: I will wait until you have one in Puteaux. “

And in the meantime, Marie returns in his car. Well almost. Because some inhabitants make available to the retiree their housing during their absence, free of charge.

A sometimes complicated social bond

If she confesses to having had “very bad ideas” in the heart of winter, Marie clings above all to two people: two men, nonagenarians, whom she visits all week and for whom she does “shopping, cleaning, ironing … all there is to do in a house. And assures that “thanks to these people, I’m still alive because they need me. “

An activity to keep a social bond, while friendly relationships have become complicated. In addition, it is no longer entitled to certain benefits, such as the Puteaux pass (offering free or reduced rates for certain events), for lack of proof of address.

Have a home for Christmas

Now, after almost a year without a home, Marie has one goal in mind: to have a home for the holiday season: “A Christmas without a house, it will be very complicated. I could not consider not having Christmas at home. With a bunch of apartment keys as the most precious gift. 

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