What caused it?
The main factor that led to the emergence of the first nuclei of informal settlements is historical and is related to the forced sedentarisation of the Roma during the communist period, starting with 1948. Also, with the forced systematization of villages, the Roma population has often been moved to housing units on the outskirts of towns and villages, especially in poor urban areas or in semi-urban settlements in agricultural areas. This makes many of the informal settlements in Romania already several decades old, with families established there for several generations and a community that has grown gradually over time.
The socio-economic factors that contributed to the emergence and spread of this phenomenon are related to the rapid urbanization and the forced land systematization in the period of 1950-1975, the residential mobility these provoked, the post-socialist restructuring of the national economy, which led to an increase in poverty and social exclusion, as well as low access to housing for disadvantaged categories after 1990. Adding to these, are a poor land planning system, as well as the lack of adequate land management tools. Numerous forms of informal housing are the result of the process of social and economic marginalization of many groups in the context of economic change which Romania has traveled over the last decades – for their occupants, these shelters being places of refuge in the absence of resources and options.
Following the repeal of the law on land systematization in 1990, the development of localities was achieved, until 2001, without any legal framework on spatial planning, and the subsequent regulations made it difficult to integrate the territories containing informal settlements into the built-up areas of adjacent localities. This has made many of the informal settlements expand further in the absence of urban regulations, without building permits or even in biological or natural risk areas, making it even more difficult to identify technical and legal solutions for these settlements at the present moment. Contributing to this expansion was also the fact that these areas have been ignored over time by authorities and developers of urban planning documentation, as well as the absence of this topic from the public and political agenda. The legislative solutions adopted so far have addressed the problem in partial modes without an understanding of the territorial reality as a whole and without a careful analysis of the potential consequences of some of the measures. The delay in legal and urban recognition of informal settlements has aggravated the situation within them, because in the last decade, in the context of building materials getting cheaper and residents accessing higher incomes, most old houses made of adobe or shelters made of recovered materials were rebuilt, becoming wall houses with concrete foundations. In addition, the non-inclusion of these residential areas in the built-up areas of the localities (intravilan) rendered impossible the carrying out urban equipment projects (paving or asphalting, water access, sewerage and public lighting).