For the last time, this Tuesday, they took out the exercise mats to make bedding. Mircea Stoica, 46, and Oana Rus, 36, leaning on children’s chairs, tell how they slept with their son Alberto, 6, at the Ernest Renan school in Villeurbanne for more than three weeks before moving from metropolitan Lyon to one Accommodation solution in shelters managed by Habitat et Humanisme. Days and nights of waiting can be read on their tired faces, in contrast to the colorful murals of this kindergarten class and the laughter of the children from the neighboring playground.
Precariousness remains their everyday life
Since March 21, they have been repeating the same ritual every day: getting up at 6 a.m. and having breakfast, packing everything up at 7:20 a.m. so that the school day can go as normal for the children. And at 6 p.m., when the last students have left, return to the kindergarten with one of the mobilized teachers, food prepared by a member of the collective and rearrangement of the gym mats for the night. Meanwhile, the unemployed parents returned to their trailer to kill time. It was impossible to stay in school at the weekend: Solidarity snacks and meals financed a few nights in a hotel here and there.
The only solution of refuge for this Romanian family, this occupation initiated by the Renan Sans Toit collective, remained uncomfortable, even if it represented an improvement compared to their previous situation. “We lived for two or three years in a trailer without water and electricity and before that in a tent”, explains Mircea, the dad. With a few small moonlighting jobs in the building, he manages to feed his family. But without open rights, social security or unemployment, precariousness remains their daily life. Eight years of hardship on the road since arriving in France after passing through Spain without ever losing hope of a solution. “We always wanted to move forward, for our son”, insists Alberto’s father. They had tried unsuccessfully to reach 115. “They told us it wasn’t for families,” cowardly Mircea. “The saturation of shelter places is so great that we are told that families will have to wait twenty-four months! » chokes Anne-Sophie Huchard, elementary school teacher.
It took the establishment of two slums in the area and the arrival of around twenty homeless students at the Ernest Renan school in November 2021 for the teachers mobilized collectively to become aware of the situation of this family, which until then had remained very discreet about his living conditions. “We had to accommodate 50 people! So we decided to occupy a city gym. Given the scale of the situation, the authorities could not sit idly by, so they found a solution within four days.” says Anne-Sophie Huchard. But no sooner had these families been sent to shelters than a new case reached the roofless Renan collective: the Stoica case. “I had to look for her to find her. I asked them if they needed help and we decided to occupy the school.” summarizes the teacher.
“In the metropolis of Lyon, 98 students are still sleeping outside”
Until this profession, Alberto had only known the street. “He didn’t play, there was no space in the trailer, he just looked at the phone,” remembers Mircea. For a few weeks now, the boy, who is being brought up in a large kindergarten department, has seemed more fulfilled. “The more it goes, the more he plays. He starts building, playing board games.” states Anne-Sophie Huchard with satisfaction. “Before he was more withdrawn, now he greets everyone, he has a lot of fun! » adds Lise Puillet, kindergarten teacher.
If the Stoica family has won their case at the end of this long occupation, the problem of families with street children is far from solved. « to Through the collective Never without a roof, which brings together around sixty establishments, we continue to list 98 students who sleep rough in the metropolis of Lyon. At national level, the Abbé Pierre Foundation lists a thousand of them”, emphasizes Anne-Sophie Huchard. During this time between two rounds, the teacher thinks about the broken promises made by the outgoing president that no one would sleep on the street. “Emergency shelters are an unconditional right, regardless of the administrative situation of people on the street. The means must be used so that it does not just remain words! »