Where and how we live impacts all aspects of our lives. A healthy living environment is crucial in determining our prospects for a good education and employment. Living in a decent home gives us safety, dignity and a social status necessary to be able to function in the society without being subject to prejudice and social exclusion.
In the revised Atlas of Roma Communities of 2013, the experts of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated that out of the total number of 402 000 Roma living in Slovakia, 53 % live in socially excluded communities. Several thousand families (estimates range from 5000 to 15000) have no option other than to live in shacks that are usually built illegally from waste or scrap materials. The shacks are situated in settlements outside or on the outskirts of towns and villages and their inhabitants have limited access to drinking water and electricity. Numerous families living in such conditions endanger their lives and health.
ETP has been striving to change this negative trend since the late nineties. To improve the quality of lives of people suffering the consequences of generational poverty, we have developed a unique model of self-help construction of family homes (or the reconstruction), making use of our financial inclusion tools: the Financial Education and the Savings and Microloans Programs.
An essential part of the housing project is social work with the clients, to support them throughout the entire construction process to achieve their construction goals and manage to retain their improved living standard.
Our Project creates a unique synergy effect. Our clients have to actively participate in the construction of their houses by which they develop useful working skills that become an asset in finding a job to sustain their improved living conditions. The success of our clients increases their social status, diminishes stereotypes and motivates others in their communities to also take their future into their own hands and change the way they live.
We consider our model of self-help construction of family homes, which saves public funds and activates the potential of local communities, to be a viable alternative to the current State´s housing policies. Therefore, we disseminate our experience nationwide, organize seminars to which we invite the representatives of Government institutions, and take steps for our models and tools to be implemented in both Slovak and European legislation.