Leader in social housing in Greater Toulouse, the Office public de l’Habitat in the Toulouse metropolitan area has been strongly committed to helping people with modest incomes for a century. Bertrand Serp, its president since September 2020, evokes this long experience and relies on it to understand the challenges to come.
How have the missions of the Office evolved over the years?
Our office was established on April 2, 1921. At that time, the main focus was the strong growth of the urban population. It must be said that living conditions on the outskirts of towns were often miserable and that they caused serious health problems. The activities of the Office were then almost exclusively focused on construction and remained until the 1970s.
In those years, the composition of households residing in social housing evolved. To adapt to this, the Office has started to integrate new professions, more linked to social support. It also stepped up building maintenance operations, which led to the recruitment of renovation professionals. Then, in the early 2000s, the attention paid to the quality of service provided to residents was reinforced.
Today, Toulouse Métropole Habitat is a global housing operator, it carries out its mission through five structuring activities: renting, managing, building, selling and fitting out.
What differentiates the Toulouse Métropole Habitat park from that of other social funders?
One of our major peculiarities, our history, is to have approximately 50% of the dwellings of our rental stock in priority districts of the city policy, where the national average is rather around 35%. The implications are colossal, especially for state urban renewal programs. By 2026, for example, we will have to build 3,200 new homes and rehabilitate 3,600. On a stock of just over 18,000 homes, you can imagine the task!
What do you think are the main challenges to be taken up in the years to come?
First, continue to support changes in society: increase in the number of single-parent families and isolated people, aging of the population, decline in residential mobility, aspirations for detached house ownership …
Then, we subscribe to a CSR approach that concretizes our societal and environmental commitments. Our Summer 2050 project, for example, will lay the foundations for a reflection on the summer comfort of residents, to concretely include the effects of climate change.
We must also continue to modernize customer relations, in particular using adapted digital tools, but keeping in mind that a substantial number of tenants in our fleet are far removed from these tools.
And we need to do all of this in a national context of shrinking social housing funding. We are recovering a little equity thanks to the work of our new and old housing sales departments. The Métropole also makes a commitment to its office by subscribing to 13.5 million euros in equity securities. But there is some uncertainty in the long term. The action of Hlm organizations is long-term and we need financial visibility on this scale.