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Urban Renewal = Riot Revival?: The Role of Urban Renewal Policy in the French Riots (From Rioting in the UK and France: A Comparative Analysis, P 124-134, 2009, David Waddington, Fabien Jobard, and Mike King, eds. - See NCJ-229457)

NCJ Number
Renaud Epstein
Date Published
11 pages
Following a brief review of the history of urban renewal projects in France from the early 1980s onwards, this chapter examines statistical and empirical data relevant to the possible link between the recent national urban renewal program and the 2005 riots.
From 1981 to 2002, successive French Governments gave priority to addressing the adverse conditions of targeted disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the country; however, the 1990 and 1999 censuses showed the concentration of poor, disadvantaged people actually increased in targeted areas, leaving residents unemployed, poorly educated, poverty-stricken, and with attendant feelings of abandonment and hopelessness. In a recent effort at urban renewal, the Law for the City and Urban Renovation was enacted on August 1, 2003, authorizing funding for demolition and reconstruction work designed to radically remodel mega-housing complexes in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Two years later, a wave of riots swept through the targeted neighborhoods, which raises the question as to whether there was a link between urban renewal plans and the riots. In examining the unfolding of events and the findings of a survey conducted in four neighborhoods covered by urban renewal plans in the weeks preceding the 2005 riots, this chapter argues for a link between the riots and urban renewal efforts. The author concludes that public decisionmakers managing the urban renewal projects did not attempt to involve residents in their planning, believing the residents could not understand nor provide helpful input for the complex projects. Residents were not given adequate information about the nature and scheduling of the projects and related re-housing plans. On the eve of the riots, massive demolitions were planned but had not yet started. 7 notes