Lyon Metropole launched a minimum income project to keep youngsters away from the poverty line. The pilot is part of a programme that includes a Housing First approach and other resources for those between 18 and 25 years old who are unemployed (or receiving meagre salaries) or at risk of poverty or exclusion.
“In France,” explains Romane Parent, Youth and Development Integration Officer at Lyon Metropole, “we have a -national- minimum income accessible only for those over 25 unless being a single parent.”
Overcoming the emergency
“In Lyon Metropole, the elected representatives wanted to develop a new programme on financial aid to target young people,” Parent adds. “That’s why we developed the youth solidarity income, which comes as a response to those who have no other aids available at the national level.”
The municipality targets those groups of young people living on the streets or in squats, with no resources. They often end up in homelessness after leaving institutions, being released from prison or leaving child welfare homes. Accepted applicants can benefit from the local financial help for a maximum of 24 continuous or discontinuous months with a reassessment of the situation every three months. During the first period, the priority is getting out of the emergency of financial instability.
“The amount of financial help is not very high,” admits Parent, “but it’s a start. It’s a way to help them find the resources like food, clothes, and housing. It’s a support before entering the job market,” she concludes.
For these young people mainly faced with problems of professional integration, this allows access to employment or training and overcome multifactorial discrimination or temporary jobs. So far, the pilot has benefited 1,200 people.
Poorer people than the average household
Everything started by collecting data to understand better the youngsters in Lyon Metropole. “We discovered they are poorer people than the average household,” says Parent. “22.6% are below the poverty line, whereas for a traditional home it is 15%.”
First, the municipality identified the needs and the potential beneficiaries out of the 168,300 young people aged 18 to 24 that comprise 12% of the total population.
8,874 young people between 18 and 24 receive less than €300 per month. These numbers made the council realise that youth is more at risk of poverty than others, and they started to work on a solution. The youth solidarity income “is also a way to show that it’s possible to develop responses for young people, not only those over 25,” Parent states.
“These people are at risk of poverty, and sometimes they have nobody to help them. Because they’re over 18, doesn’t mean they can get jobs quickly or be supported by family. It’s not the case for everyone,” Parent adds.
Housing and income
The implementation of the project is at the crossroads of two strategic public policies of the Métropole: experimenting with a solidarity income for young people and the accelerated implementation of Housing First to fight against youth homelessness. This programme is carried out within the framework of the European programme for employment and social innovation (Easi).
Securing stable resources with the Youth Solidarity Income (YSI) also makes it possible to immediately initiate the necessary basis for social inclusion. The metropolis of Lyon is funding local associations to offer assistance and support to young people benefiting the YSI. These associations offer support regarding access to healthcare, job seeking, parenthood, and social assistance, which contributes to access to housing regardless of the young people’s past residential background.
Lack of housing and low incomes frequently go hand and hand, and indeed, the causes of youth homelessness in France include the lack of earnings for those aged 18 to 25. Additionally, the housing crisis and high prices of properties do not help.
After one year from the start of the solidarity income, says Parent, “we’ve realised 400€ is not enough to afford housing” but when combined with the national housing benefits, “they probably can afford a shared apartment”.
Lyon’s policies to support youth development are framed into the European Pillar of Social Rights, more concretely under principles 3 Equal opportunities, 4 Active support for employment, 14 Minimum income, and 19 Housing and assistance.
The youth solidarity income comes as a start for many youngsters, and it can be complementary to national revenues they may receive. Lyon Metropole continues to work on this matter to guarantee the inclusion and financial independence of youth in the city.