New Eurhonet member: HABITAT 08

30 April 2024

We are pleased to welcome a new French member to the Eurhonet community: HABITAT 08. We had a chat with General Manager, Hervé Euzen. Hervé is not a new face at Eurhonet, having previously been Managing Director at our long-standing member OPAL. We are pleased to welcome him once again to the network in this new role! Let’s hear more about HABITAT 08…

Hervé Euzen

General Manager, HABITAT 08

HABITAT 08 is an ‘Office Public de l’Habitat’ located in the Ardennes region (France). We have a portfolio of 12,000 homes in 80 communes. Every day, 255 employees work to serve some 20,100 tenants, or one in every 13 Ardennes residents. HABITAT 08 has six local agencies: three in Charleville-Mézières, and one each in Sedan, Rethel, and Revin. We also have a Tenant Relations Centre at the head office in Charleville-Mézières, which centralises, manages, and handles all tenant requests.

Modern apartment building of Habitat 08

Married with three children, I trained at Néoma Business School, the ‘Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers’, and more recently at HEC Paris. I was Director of Human Resources at Néoma and then at ‘Pôle Emploi’ (employment agency) in 2016, moving on to become Director of Social Relations and Managerial Development for the Grand Est region.

I entered the social housing sector through the social landlord OPAL in 2017 as Deputy General Manager. After a few years working there in the French department of Aisne, I took up my current position as General Manager at HABITAT 08 at the beginning of 2024.

Social housing plays a key role in society, thanks to its public service mission of providing housing for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, enabling them to (re)build their lives and find their place in the community. Supporting and meet the needs of tenants throughout their residential life at HABITAT 08 is an important motivating factor.

Given my position and my background in human resources, supporting employees to carry out their missions is a major challenge that motivates me on a daily basis. Having recently taken up my new post, my first tasks are to analyse HABITAT 08’s current operations, to get to know all the staff and the institutional, economic, and social partners, and to draw up a coherent roadmap to make HABITAT 08 a key player in the Ardennes department.

My recent arrival has given me the opportunity to project HABITAT 08 into 2027, through a corporate project that aims to be collaborative. It will be presented to all employees in the coming weeks, and then translated into operational actions with employees after the summer. 

Although I was not yet in office at the time, the creation of HABITAT 08’s Tenant Relations Centre has been a real internal success. It is particularly popular with tenants.

Created in June 2022, the Tenant Relations Centre now has eight employees who centralise and handle all tenant requests (technical, administrative, financial problems, etc.), regardless of the contact method used by the tenant (telephone, e-mail, post, etc.). This organisational change has enabled us to significantly improve the handling and processing of all problems encountered, and thus improve the quality of service to our tenants.

People working in call centre

The Ardennes department in northeastern France is a former industrial area which, since the end of the 20th century, has been affected by a deindustrialisation trend. This has generated a particularly high unemployment rate compared to the French average (9.9% vs. 7.5%), as well as a demographic decline (-0.7%).

Faced with these two issues, HABITAT 08 is managing a population that is becoming poorer (a phenomenon accentuated by the COVID crisis) and is dealing with a department located in an area of low demand. There is therefore a negative impact on the rate of tenants who are unable to pay their rent (8% in 2023) and the vacancy rate (9.2% in 2022).

In addition, since the recent crises (COVID and the war in Ukraine) and the rise in energy prices (gas and electricity), tenants are facing a very significant increase in their rental charges. Our Office has a duty to provide tenants with the best possible support in this respect.

Construction site

Construction of the Residence ‘Iris à Rethel’ – 76 homes

What do you hope for HABITAT 08’s involvement in Eurhonet?

I was previously the Managing Director of OPAL: a social housing provider that is already an active member of Eurhonet. It therefore seemed logical and natural when I arrived at HABITAT 08 to continue the work and discussions begun with the network.

Eurhonet enables us to share practices and systems between regions, to draw inspiration from what works and to make our own contribution to other network members. The network is welcoming and friendly, which helps us give even greater meaning to our public service mission, as it is shared beyond the French borders.

I’m obviously very pleased to be able to get back to the network members so quickly, continue the exchanges, and nurture the contacts already initiated with members. Above all, I’m pleased to give the opportunity for new employees to join the various Topic Groups, notably on the themes of sustainable construction, ageing, and digital communication and technology. I’m certain that our employees will be keen to share their initiatives and projects with other group members!

Thank you to Hervé Euzen for taking part in this interview, and welcome to all colleagues of HABITAT 08. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming meetings.

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