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Homeless in France get accommodation in offices when workers go home

Participating companies offer a clean sleeping area, kitchen and bathroom in their office that would otherwise be empty

Souleymane Diarra (left) with Bureaux du Coeur founder, Pierre-Yves Loaëc. Mr Diarra spent two years living on the streets and now has his own apartment Pic: Bureaux du Coeur

Businesses in more than 20 towns are offering their offices as free accommodation to homeless people during the evenings and weekends when they would otherwise be empty.

More than 200 people have so far benefited from the Bureaux du Coeur association and 110 firms and partner associations have signed up. 

Director general of Bureaux de Coeur, Kinda Garman, said the association was now expanding its service into Bayonne, Rouen and Valence. 

People using the scheme are known as guests

Created in 2019 by a group of 15 Nantes-based entrepreneurs, Bureaux du Coeur brings together a host company and a partner association. 

The companies must provide a dedicated and clean sleeping area, a kitchen area, washing facilities and a locked cupboard. 

People using the scheme are known as guests. They have their own access to the building and arrive when workers leave. 

In some locations, a local restaurant provides a meal. 

Read more: American donates flat to French town to help people in trouble

Mr Diarra had spent two years living on the street

In the morning, they can chat for a moment with arriving employees, before taking part in activities, such as language courses or professional reintegration, arranged by the partner association.

The latter also monitors the guest and intervenes if there are problems.

Guests do not pay for the service and must respect the location’s working hours. 

They cannot bring animals or friends into the areas or drink alcohol on site. 

They can use the service for three months and, if required, can renew their deal. 

“I’m delighted to be able to contribute to getting as many people as possible out of poverty,” Ms Garman said. 

Souleymane Diarra spent two years living on the streets. 

After spending four months with a host business, he was able to move into his own apartment and was reunited with his daughter. 

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