Florence mayor says too many foreigners in public housing

Florence Mayor Dario Nardella (2nd L) proposed a plan to extend the required Italian residence from five to 10 years to apply for public housing

The leftist mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, on Saturday called for measures to limit the number of foreigners in Italy's public housing, warning against becoming like the heavily immigrant suburbs in France.

"The criteria used to assign social housing needs to be reviewed because in certain suburban neighbourhoods, we risk creating ghettos with one third Italians and one third non-European Union foreigners," Nardella said in an interview with the daily Corriere della Sera.

"The French model is a failure," he said, referring to some areas outside French cities that have been rocked by violent protests by the mainly immigrant population that feels marginalised.

Nardella said he was not calling for an "Italians first" housing policy like the anti-immigrant Northern League would -- a move he said would foment hatred.

His plan would be to extend the required Italian residence from five to 10 years in his Tuscany region to apply for housing.

Still, Nardella, close to former leftwing prime minister Matteo Renzi, did pick up on a far-right theme of tougher controls, including on ethnic Roma migrants.

"Roma families who don't send their children to school should be punished... including taking away the housing," he said in a radio interview.