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.
Representatives of several county and local institutions, parliamentarians, members of non-governmental organizations, and residents of communities faced with informal housing attended in two working meetings organized by PACT Foundation and MKBT: Make Better, alongside the project partners at the beginning of August at Corbului (Argeş) and Slatina (Olt).
The purpose of these local events was to provide the context for a necessary debate on informal housing between public actors with local and national responsibilities and to facilitate discussions on possible legislative and public policy solutions needed to solve instances of informal housing at the local level and to limit the spread of the phenomenon.
The purpose of the events organized under the title „Solutions for Informal Settlements in Romania”, was to provide the context for a debate on the need for a legislative initiative defining precisely informal housing in order to regulate it, respectively the need of a national program to stimulate local authorities towards appropriate administrative measures of every type of informal dwelling in Romania.
The events took place in Valea Corbului and Slatina, two relevant sites for discussing the peculiarities of informal living in Romania. In the Argeş village of Valea Corbului there are 350 informal houses, while in Slatina, 450 families live in informal settlements. At national level, over 64,000 families are in this situation without having the right to possess land and their homes, in some cases without identity papers, with limited access to basic utilities and road infrastructure.
Valea Corbului, 1 August 2018. The invitation was answered by representatives of the Romanian Parliament – deputy Petre Florin Manole, deputy Daniel Vasile, deputy Nicolae Georgescu – of some relevant county authorities – Argeş Territorial Arrangement and Urban Planning Department, Argeş General Directorate for People Evidence of Argeş, DGASPC Argeş, BJR Argeş – local authorities – Gheorghe Ionescu, Mayor of Călineşti Commune, Bogdan Oancea, Deputy Mayor of Bughea de Jos Commune, Iosif Daniel, Deputy Mayor of Aninoasa, Valentin Velcea, Calinesti local councilor, members of non-governmental organizations, as well as members of the Corbului Valley community and other Arges communities that face the phenomenon of informal housing.
Slatina, August 7, 2018. The list of participants included representatives of the county authorities – Urban Planning Service, Territorial Planning and Discipline in Construction; Public Administration Service; General Directorate for the People Evidence of Olt, OJCPI Olt, DGASPC Olt, BJR Olt and the Olt Water Management Service, as well as representatives of all services relevant to the topic in the Slatina City Hall. Other respondents of the invitation, deputy PSD Petre Florin Manole, county councilors – Mr. George Şofaru PSD, Ms. Gherghina Ionita ALDE, Mr. Gabriel Nicolescu PNL, local PNL councilor Mr. Ionuţ Comănescu, as well as Mr. Silviu Anton – President of USR Olt and Mr. Sandu Curt – President of the Pro-Europa Olt Roma Party Association.
Photos from the two local meetings: