The Collective Exercise of Discretionary Power

The Enforceable Right to Housing (DALO) Commissions
By Pierre-Edouard Weill

This article analyses the collective exercise of discretionary power, by studying the implementation of the enforceable right to housing (DALO) by local commissions. These collegial bodies bring together different actors involved in local housing policies, in order to select the “urgent and priority” situations among individuals who instigate an administrative procedure in order to acquire suitable accommodation. The collective interpretation of the DALO Act explicitly gives room for manœuvre. It is embedded in sectorial and localized power relationships on which it, in its turn, has an effect. Studying the social roots and unequal resources of the commission members, according to the organization they represent, enables their operating logic to be better identified. The definition of social housing applicants’ situations then appears to be the result of a constantly renewed process of adjusting opposed and unequally represented interests to extra-legal criteria. Although guided by moral and economic considerations which contradict the spirit of the Law, the selection of beneficiaries still has a legal character, which legitimizes an accurate targeting of social housing allocations.

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