Creation of the High Committee for the Housing of the Underprivileged

The Abbé Pierre is received first at Matignon then at the Elysée where he mentions an issue dear to his heart.

Shortly after the inception of the Foundation, the Abbé Pierre has another purpose he holds dear: the creation of a High Public Moral Authority, credible and listened to, to take up the cause of the housing of the underprivileged.

Several times, alongside Raymond Etienne, current president of the Foundation, the Abbé is received first at Matignon by Pierre Bérégovoy, then at the Elysée, where he talks about this issue he holds dear with François Mitterrand. To prove his point, he is ready to give up without hesitation, the privilege of being named Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour (having learned about this promotion on July 14, 1992)  if the High Authority is not created rapidly.

After a few meetings between the Abbé and the Prime Minister, some fifteen personalities from different sides are selected to make up this High Committee. Among them, Professor Albert Jacquard, president of DAL, Renée Lenoir, president of the Fnars, Geneviève Anthonioz de Gaulle, president of ATD Quart Monde and the Restos du Cœur, Maris Dumas…

The Abbé Pierre goes further and imposes the first president of the High Committee, Louis Besson, who will be notified at the last moment and who will, of course, accept the honour. Finally, the high authority will convene in Matignon.

When the Abbé Pierre meets the President of the Republic in order to present the approved composition of the High Committee, the President, upon seeing the list of names, whispers to him on the doorstep of the Elysée:

“Tell me, father, aren’t you by any chance slightly left-wing?”

“Don’t forget, I salvage, and for that I am unsalvageable.”

On December 22, 1992, the decree establishing the Committee for the Housing of the Underprivileged whose “mission is to make useful propositions concerning all the issues pertaining to the housing of the underprivileged was made public. It gives its opinion concerning questions by the Government. Each year, it drafts a report which is submitted to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.”

Since the publication of its first report in December 1993 till today, the main strength of the High Committee has been to formulate tangible propositions for the housing of the underprivileged and not only to assert the right to housing.