CAF. Caisse Allocations Familiales. The bane of my French existence. Also the monetary savoir for poor folks (pun intended) like myself.
I have briefly discussed getting rent assistance from CAF in past post, each time mentioning that I have not, in fact, received any money. This is soon to to change! But I’ll get to that soon enough. First things first.
When I first moved into Amitel, the foyer des jeunes travailleurs that I lived in last year, the rent (450 euros/month), in comparison to my salary (790 euros/month), was quite expensive. But not to panic, I thought as I scanned countless TAPIF advice blogs, I can get housing assistance from CAF!
I quickly learned, however, that as with anything in the French administration, it is easier said than done. Now, I don’t know about how it is at the CAF offices in other cities, but in Strasbourg, they like to make you work for it. The first part of this work, is the paperwork, and this is how long the process went on
October: I submitted the initial paperwork, and received this response: “We received your application, and it will take 8 weeks for us to look it over.
December: Still had not received any word, so I contacted them via email.Another response: “We’ve looked over your paperwork and we are missing X, Y and Z items. Please submit them.” I submitted them, and received, once again this e-mail: “We received your application, and it will take 8 weeks for us to look it over.” Kill me.
February: Again, still no communication, so I emailed them again to check on my application. “We are still missing item A. Please submit it so we can look at your application.” Seriously? You couldn’t have asked for this before? Nevertheless, I submitted it, and can you guess what response I got? “We received your application, and it will take 8 weeks for us to look it over.” Please. Kill. Me.
April: At this point, I am almost leaving France, and seriously frustrated. So I contact them again. No response. The second time around sending the same e-mail, I get this response: We need one more item, your declaration de patrimoine, then we can look at your application and see about giving you the October-April back pay ( I had to tell them to stop my payments after April before they even started giving them to me.) So I submit the last paperwork, change my address and return to the United States in May. At the end of April, can you guess the e-mail I got yet? “We received your application, and it will take 8 weeks for us to look it over.” No, I’m not kidding.
June: After several unreturned e-mails to CAF, someone finally e-mails me back. “We don’t have your declaration de patrimoine.” Um, sorry what? So I email them back, stating that I received a confirmation of the fact that they do, in fact, have it on April 23, 2017. No response. I send the e-mail again. Then, as if the heavens decided to smile upon me, I get an e-mail, “I am forwarding this e-mail to my boss. He should be able to have this solved shortly.” FINALLY SOME HELP. THANK JESUS. Before long, I get another e-mail:
“We have updated your account, and your old lessor will receive at the end of July a sum of 1872 in back pay for the period of October 2016-April 2017.”
So now it will rest on Amitel, a fact that makes me a tad nervous, but things are finally moving along! I may finally get my money after all! A bit late, but better late then never, eh? (Although I do have a tiny, eensy-weensy problem where I can’t check my bank account because I locked myself out, and can’t get un-locked because I can’t go to the office, in France. But details, right?)
So that being said, the moral of the story: Don’t get annoyed and give up on it! Keep sending them e-mails and questions, because eventually, with persistence, you can get the aid!
To those of you who have experienced the hell that is the French administration: What was your worst experience? Any better or worse than mine?