Finalement: I Fought CAF and I Won! (I Think)

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?




  1. I owed CAF some money after my first assistant year because they accidentally over payed me one month. At the point, I didn’t know if I was coming back to France or not, so I kind of ignored the emails and went along my merry way. Flash forward to last year and I’m applying for CAF in Marseille. I have to use my sécu number, so they realize that I’m the person who owes them 180 euro and send a letter to my new address saying as much. Fine no big deal, I’ll pay now so it’s over with. So, I email CAF des Bouches-du-Rhone asking how I can pay it. They email back saying we have no idea, you’ll have to ask CAF de la Savoie. Thank goodness I saved ever scrap of paper because otherwise I would have no idea how to contact CAF de la Savoie! But I manage to log into my old CAF account to ask them. Their reply is: we’re sending that debt to your new account, so CAF des Bouches-du-Rhone will deal with it…. I’m still honestly not sure what happened to that debt, but I kept getting money from CAF in Marseille so…..???


  2. If you don’t mind me asking, what were the other documents they were after besides the declaration de patrimoine? I’ll be dealing with CAF this upcoming year, and have been looking for any and all advice on the topic. Merci!


    • Hi Kaitlyn! To the best of my memory, here are the documents I eventually was asked for:
      Declaration de patrimoine
      Birth certificate
      Pay stubs
      Titre de sejour (the visa sticker you get from OFII upon completing the medical visit)
      Change of address forms (after I moved out)
      There might be other things that I am forgetting, but I do know that they did claim to not have a couple of the above after I submitted them, haha so one or two I had to fight with them about.


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