BUILDING HOPE – FROM SHACK INTO A 3E HOUSE

The program of self-help construction of family homes was financed from several sources including partner institutions and individual donors. It was the first to ever test a new model of self-help construction of family houses that become the builders´ asset, financed by a combination of clients´ own savings and an interest-free microloan provided by ETP. The houses were constructed by young people from a marginalized Roma community on legally settled land with a valid Construction Permit. The building costs were covered by the future house owners, making use of their own savings and the ETP Savings and Microloans Program. The houses are connected to the infrastructure, they have their own toilet, and they are connected to electricity, water supply and sewage. They are built according to a flexible project of incremental housing, which was designed for ETP by the architect, Ing. arch. Katarína Smatanová. The costs of the construction of one house of the size of 25 m2 constituting the habitable space on the ground floor and 50 m2 of habitable space of the attic were approximately 10 000 EUR.

 Activities:

  • From October of 2013 to April of 2014, we helped to build four and reconstruct two houses in Rankovce.
  • We facilitated the sale of ten plots of land for the second phase of self-help construction. The clients were able to purchase the land thanks to our Savings Program.
  • We created a post of a Construction Supervisor to help the young builders at the construction site.
  • We made several presentations and invited our supporters as well as groups and individuals interested in the Project (cooperating organizations, representatives of business sector, embassies, NGOs, municipalities and ministries, field social workers, students of architecture, social work, etc.) to share our experiences.
  • In April and October of 2014, we organized seminars on Innovations in Social Housing, during which we presented to the representatives of relevant ministries, supporters, municipalities and NGOs the results of the Project and proposed for this solution to become an integral part of the Slovak State´s housing policies for the inhabitants of segregated settlements. The solution presents the self-help construction as an effective social work tool.
  • We published the Step by Step manual, which sums up our experience with the self-help construction. It is dedicated to anyone either from the public or private sector, who would like to apply our model. The manual is available in both Slovak and English.
  • In September of 2014 we commenced the second phase of the construction of family homes in Rankovce. The second phase has been realized in Rankovce in cooperation with the Municipality and a local NGO Pre lepší život (‟For a Better Life″). Nine families from the settlement took the opportunity to use our support and began building their own legal houses themselves.
  • Thanks to the VÚB Foundation and dakujeme.sk (“thankyou.sk”) crowdfunding portal, we managed to raise funds from both individual donors and companies to be able to provide our clients with a microloan to purchase construction material and tools. To support our builders, we also partnered with the crowdfunding portal of the Pontis Foundation – Dobrá Krajina – dobrakrajina.sk (“Great Country”).

 Besides building safe, healthy and legal homes, the Project has generated the following outcomes:

  • The basic living conditions of the families involved have improved significantly.
  • The builders have acquired working skills and habits, which have increased their chances of succeeding on the labor market.
  • The social status of the builders and their families in the community has improved and their sense of personal responsibility has grown. The cooperation with the majority has been essential, contributing to diminishing stereotypes and prejudices on both sides.
  • The success of the builders motivates others in the community.
  • The self-help construction model saves public finances.
  • The self-help construction model also has enormous integration potential, much greater compared to other models of social housing implemented in Slovakia.

 In the upcoming period, we continue in our efforts to:

  • Help and support the builders in finishing the construction of nine family homes in Rankovce.
  • Create a joint organization with other NGOs and partners to ensure the continuation, replication and nationwide application of this model of self-help construction of family homes for socially excluded inhabitants in Slovakia.
  • Raise funds at both domestic and international levels to enable the financing of microloans and administrative and construction works to ensure the Project’s future continuation.

In October 2014, the Building Hope project was awarded the golden Civil Society Prize for the Integration of Roma by the European Economic and Social Committee.

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