Improvement of housing quality of marginalized Roma families

Implementer: Civic Association ETP Slovakia – Center for Sustainable Development

The goal of the educational project „Improvement of housing quality of Roma communities in central and eastern Slovakia“ was to provide socially and financially excluded Roma with an opportunity for education and housing quality improvement as well as to help remove stereotypes and prejudices against the Roma.

In Community Centers (CC), individuals and families of 6 municipalities (Stara Lubovna, Velky Blh, Rudnany, Hodejov, Ostrovany, Simonovce) received comprehensive services, social and legal assistance as well as assistance in job searching, completion of education and individual financial training. Other activities provided for the clients and their families were implemented in CCs within the project „Community Bridge Building in Central and Eastern Slovakia“ supported by EEA Financial Mechanism, Norwegian Financial Mechanism and State Budget of Slovak Republic.

Individual financial training „Don’t be afraid of money“ helps the clients understand the terms and conditions of loans of various banking and non-banking organizations and teaches them to how to manage their finances and prevent usury as well.

Target groups:

1. Marginalized Roma individuals and families on low social and cultural level

2. Roma individuals and families on average level, who are living in cities and villages

Partial goals of the project:

1. Provide professional training for community center workers/field social workers in selected municipalities (suggested municipalities: Velke Kapusany, Sabinov, Moldava nad Bodvou, Rudnany, Drna, Velký Blh, Jesenske and other interested municipalities) in order to enable them to inform and explain the conditions of participation in the project to the candidates and to provide long-term support and practical assistance for the clients during the duration of the project.

2. Train 55 clients of the project in financial education training that ETP Slovakia has prepared to meet the needs of the poor Roma communities.

3. Train 55 clients of the project to gain basic construction skills in order to accomplish reconstruction of their apartments and houses.

4. Accomplish reconstruction of 55 apartments and houses in cooperation with the clients.

5. Include the families of the clients in various activities of CCs.

6. Provide support services and counseling for the families (social, health, vocational, legal and financial inclusion of the Roma)

7. Help to increase acceptance of cultural and ethnic differences of the Roma and support social and financial inclusion of the Roma.

ETP Slovakia – Center for Sustainable Development has been participating with the partners for a few years (municipalities with Roma communities on low or average social and cultural level) and has gained extensive experience in housing improvement projects implementation through various tools such as loans and grants provided by international organizations (Habitat for Humanity International, Open Society Institute) and grants of Ministry of construction and regional development of the Slovak Republic for minimum standard apartments construction.

The project is based on Medium-term Development Plan of Roma ethnic minority in Slovak Republic and other government documents regarding the social inclusion and respects the recommendations of Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on housing conditions improvement of the Roma and nomads in Europe.

The project is in accordance with the principles of Medium-term Development Plan of Roma ethnic minority in Slovak Republic such as long-term social work, personal responsibility, complexity, supporting self-help activities, effective social change and coordination of community activities.

The project is based on the experience of ETP Slovakia in implementation of the Micro-loan program (maximum 1,160 EUR) for the marginalized Roma community members that has been supported by non-profit charity organization Habitat for Humanity International. Improvement of housing quality of the Roma marginalized communities is following this long-term program and extends the possibilities of housing quality improvement to other 55 families of marginalized Roma communities. The experiences of ETP Slovakia show that even small loans for housing quality improvement of the tenants and owners have positive impact (behavior change, increased motivation to complete the education and find a job, improved hygiene habits, etc.).

Non-profit loans in maximum amount of 1,160 EUR have to be repaid within maximum 48 months. The material for reconstruction is bought together with the client therefore the client is not managing the financial resources. The client does not pay any interest only inflation surcharge of maximum 3 % (depending on the inflation). The clients are required to pay the application processing fee and contract preparation fee. The average monthly repayment is 29 euros assuming repayment period 48 months.

The purpose of the project is to create conditions for the Roma families and individuals to improve the quality of their inappropriate housing conditions through micro-loans provided by the partner of the project Habitat for Humanity International and following reconstruction and professional assistance and counseling.

The project is supported by a number of partners: financial resources of Plenipotentiary Government Office for Roma communities are provided for the micro-loan management human resources. The expenses for micro-loans are covered by financial resources of Habitat for Humanity International and the financial resources for education are provided by Open Society Foundation.