Here, we call it “hollow tooth”. Cut with a bulldozer, this gaping hole, with too straight edges, too clean colors, is a blot on the vast ghost ship that the top of rue d’Aubagne has become, with its tired roads, its businesses with their curtains drawn, its condemned buildings. Almost five years after the collapse of buildings at numbers 63 and 65, which left eight people dead on November 5, 2018, life still seems to be at a standstill. Frédéric Tchalian, 40 years old, co-founder of the Riverains rue d’Aubagne collective, who lived on the first floor of 70, just opposite, watches this spectacle with infinite sadness. “I would love to tell you that things are better, but no, the scar is not closed. »
That morning, Frédéric, who was then living with his parents, was dozing in his bed. His mother was then in Brittany and his father had left. Shortly after 9 a.m., “I felt the walls shaking,” he said. At the kitchen window, he discovers that the building opposite, the one for which he had already alerted the town hall because pieces of the wall had fallen, has collapsed. As well as the one next door which, walled up, was uninhabited. On the job, the firefighters soon caused the collapse of a third building, at 67, which was also threatening to fall. Hundreds of residents were evacuated.
“An hour later, there was a pounding on my door and I was evacuated too, I only had time to take a pair of pajama bottoms,” continues Frédéric, who finds refuge with a friend. At the town hall’s emergency unit, he has to fight to get a hotel, like the evicted tenants. A traumatic period where “every week we had to renew the accommodation voucher and we were made to understand that, as we were owners, we were not priorities”. However, just like the tenants, the Tchalian family, prohibited from returning to their home, finds themselves without a roof over their heads. “It was even crazier because our building was very well maintained, my parents had bought it twenty-eight years ago and all the necessary work had been done,” says Frédéric.
“Everything was hell, and none of the steps were made easy for us”
However, when, in February 2019, the family was allowed to return home, “cracks that did not exist before had appeared”. “Everything was hell, and none of the stages were made easier for us,” judges Frédéric. It was necessary to stir up the trustee “who was pathetic”, start work, wait for aid for three years, assume an insurance premium multiplied by five… In the meantime, the family had to find housing on their own. “My parents have to pay rent of €800 with their retirement in addition to co-ownership charges. » Frédéric found social housing.
We also had to deal with collateral problems. “My father has had heart surgery twice, his doctor clearly makes the connection with what happened. My mother is weakened. And I always see a psychologist,” continues Frédéric. Because the wound is still raw. Although today the accommodation is habitable, the family cannot consider returning there. “Today, we can’t look out our window and act as if nothing happened, it’s too hard. » Especially since, since then, the neighborhood, whose empty buildings have attracted squats and trafficking, has changed a lot. “It’s a street where we were happy. We had our newsagent, our baker. But today, the businesses have become gloomy, the square is a wild parking lot and there are more drug dealers than before. »
So, what to do? To rent out ? Sell ? “We will have to find a solution in 2024,” believes Frédéric, who is carefully following what is now happening well beyond rue d’Aubagne. Because, since then, Marseille seems to have discovered the extent of substandard housing, which concerned 40,000 homes in 2018. Some 800 safety orders were issued and no less than 5,000 people evacuated. And, even today, according to the town hall, 1,250 remain to be rehoused, including 9 former tenants of rue d’Aubagne.