Voices from Eurasia

Roma inclusion: building houses does not solve the housing issue


Our next batch of Roma analysis is out - this week’s focus is on housing. The latest report is part of the Roma Inclusion Working Papers series, and is based on data from the survey UNDP did together with the World Bank and the European Commission in 2011.

When we talk about Roma housing, many of us might imagine substandard shacks in a segregated and poor part of the village.

The survey data show that this image is reality for many Roma across Central and Southeastern Europe. Leaking roofs, no access to utilities mainly due to inability to pay bills, and the threat of eviction. Overall poor housing conditions is the everyday reality for a large number of marginalized Roma.

But do Roma really have to live in such conditions? Is it primarily their responsibility? Should society leave marginalized people on their own?

One of the conclusions of the report, authored by Tatjana Peric, is that a comprehensive approach is crucial for resolving complex housing issues faced by many Roma communities.

Attempts to address housing issues separately from education, employment and health issues and without direct and active involvement of Roma people have not yielded positive results.

Contracting a construction company in an open and transparent tender to build x number of housing units for y number of Roma families might be economically effective and efficient.

But from the point of view of social inclusion and social capital it would be more effective to have the future tenants working on their future houses under professional supervision, gaining skills they can use in the labour market and having a “relationship” with their new home. However, this takes more time, is more difficult to carry out, and costs more too.

The paper also looks at housing from a human rights perspective, analyzing living conditions of Roma and the links to education, health and employment.

The papers from the Roma Inclusion Working Papers series already released:

●     Civil society, civil involvement and social inclusion of the Roma

●     Methodology – Integrated household survey among Roma populations

●     Roma education in comparative perspective

●     The health situation of Roma communities

Other resources based on the data from the survey:

●     Joint EU Fundamental Rights Agency / UNDP overview of results

●     Opportunities for Roma inclusion – UNDP newsletter

●     Toward an equal start: Closing the early learning gap for Roma children in Eastern Europe – World Bank

●     Reducing vulnerability and promoting the self-employment of Roma in Eastern Europe through financial inclusion – World Bank

The results from the UNDP / World Bank / European Commission survey were released online, as a publically available presentation and data sets.


Blog post Europe & the CIS Roma Communities and local development

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