Interview with Frédéric GONTHIER

AB: What is the relationship between Cite and homeless people who sleep in the gallery?

FG: Cite in Marais was built in 1965. I have been working in Cite as a receptionist for 10 years. It’s not an easy story. Around 40 people sleep in the gallery. More people sleep here in winter. Some of them are really cool, nice people. But there are also aggressive and non-sociable people. Fighting with knives and other tools is not all that uncommon. Sometimes you can see traces of blood on the floor. The police don’t like to come because they can’t really stop these acts. Sometimes they do not come at all, or an hour later. There is one who often walks around naked or does all of his needs right outside the entrance and simply does not respond to any advice.

AB: Was it allowed for homeless people to come in earlier?

FG: Yes, the house was open until the pandemic. Coffee machines came into the house around 4 years ago. Before the pandemic, many homeless people came in for coffee or tea. But that was often a challenge for porters – they didn’t want to go out, they wanted to sleep in the house. They molested the residents of the house. Some even slept in the hallway. Since the house is closed to non-residents we have much less troubles with them.