On September 12, the Housing Forum – Talks that build conference was held in Bucharest, an international conference on housing in Romania organized by Habitat for Humanity Romania. This edition was organized in partnership with CeRe: Resource Center for Public Participation, MKBT: Make Better and PACT Foundation. Housing Forum 2018 had guests Ashna S. Mathema – specialist in urban development at the World Bank, Gabriela Inchauste – economist, World Bank, Vladimir Macura – architect and expert in informal settlements, Magdalena Ruszkowska-Cieślak – national director, Habitat for Humanity Poland and Adrian Dan – sociologist, university lecturer at the University of Bucharest.

The event aimed to create the necessary framework for the debate to identify solutions and best practices in the field of housing for vulnerable groups affected by poor housing. Informal settlements and social housing policies represented the topics of discussion of the 2 workshops organized in the Housing Forum 2018

A number of 50 participants – international housing experts, representatives of civil society and local and central authorities – debated the situation of over 64,000 families living in informal settlements, without possession documents on the land they occupy, without access or with limited access to utilities and services, sometimes without identity documents and, on the other hand, the problem of social housing, in the context in which our country has the lowest stock in the European Union, estimated at 1.2%, compared to countries from The EU in which a quarter (Austria, UK, Spain) or even a third (Netherlands) of the available stock is allocated to social housing.

 “We need to make housing issues a priority. Because decent housing means opportunities for development, safety and health, easier access to the labor market and education. At this year’s edition of the Housing Forum, we brought to the same table the civil society, the academic environment and the local and central authorities in trying to find housing solutions for the most vulnerable among us. Because, often, the most affected by poverty and poor living conditions are easier to ignore and excluded from the public decision ”, says Nicoleta Chiriță, Advocacy Manager Habitat for Humanity Romania.

The interest of so many participants in contributing ideas and proposals has once again shown that living in informal settlements is a reality that can no longer be neglected. Currently, at least 200,000 people live in these types of settlements, their number increasing. If we do not intervene, we risk the phenomenon becoming uncontrollable proportions, with consequences both on the health, safety and future of the people in these settlements as well as on the communities and cities. However, there are means of intervention and models of good practice that can guide us.

Therefore, we keep in mind the necessity of urgently creating a normative framework aimed at informal settlements, defining the term and identifying the main typologies that we have to consider when outlining appropriate action scenarios. “We start from the Housing Forum with clear principles that a Law on informal settlements should include: the intervention aims to identify and regulate informal settlements, depending on their typology, involving local and community actors in the whole process, establishing clear roles for each public authority involved at central and local level, as well as sanctions. In short, a “law with teeth” (with clear responsibilities and sanctions for all involved, authorities and residents), as one participant said, so that informal historical settlements become history and the phenomenon is discouraged in the future. ” , says Bogdan Suditu, MKBT: MakeBetter.