Alone in the world

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

The hardship of separation means a new life: new housing, work, childcare, everything changes with far fewer resources. A situation that makes single-parent families the most precarious categories in the country. Single mothers are trying to get together to make their voices heard and tell us about their daily lives.

They got married and had many children. The cliché is tenacious. Couples who hope that love will last forever. Even with the high divorce figures, few people put a ring on their finger and imagine that their story will end. Yet, according to the professionals, it is necessary to prepare for the aftermath. Because when the break-up happens, some couples face great difficulties. In a country like Luxembourg, where it is already difficult to find accommodation for two, once you are alone with children, it becomes an obstacle course, especially as social housing is in short supply. So it's all about coping and tricks to survive. While some people were already used to making ends meet, others have to give up on a comfortable life.

Housing remains the sinews of war for single-parent families, who generally have to find emergency accommodation after a separation: "Often people come as a last resort because they are first trying to get by on their own", explains Martine Bretz, head of the Centre for Women, Families and Single Parents (CFFM). But that's without taking into account the drastic criteria of landlords and estate agents who are in a strong position in a very tight market: "Even if the person works full time, the agencies almost systematically ask for two salaries, and the waiting lists are long for social housing. But there is often an emergency because it is generally impossible to pay for the family home that was occupied before the separation.

Some women, because the vast majority of them are women, are reduced to crossing the border while waiting for social housing, and are literally exploited to keep an 'address' in Luxembourg: "Some unscrupulous people 'rent' their mailboxes for 300 euros a month. We know that some women do it, they are transparent with us, it's delicate", admits Martine Bretz.

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