The results from the 2011 population census in Bulgaria show that three and more people live in the same room in approximately 85 000 dwellings with more than 395 000 inhabitants, mainly Roma. More than 200 000 dwellings in the country (of mainly Roma) are not legal. The issue of poor housing and illegal dwellings in Roma neighbourhoods has been ignored for several decades already and the public administration has not carried out an adequate housing policy at municipal and national level. The project aims at contributing to the development of long-term municipal and national housing policies that can meet the needs and provide adequate and secure housing and living environment to Roma. The project is expected to carry out an in-depth research of the housing needs of the Roma communities in Sliven and Targovishte and initiate a debate and direct work with the public authorities and other stakeholders to formulate adequate municipal housing policies, programmes and ordinances. This experience will be shared with the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria and all municipalities and it will be the foundation for recommendations to improve the national housing policy. The project will contribute to clear formulation of the housing needs of Roma in Sliven and Targovishte based on a representative survey with an overall analytical report and a study of the existing municipal housing policies. The vision, goals and measures to improve the housing conditions will be discussed at round tables with the stakeholders. Several local organizations will be trained to provide advocacy before the administration on housing issues. The report with the recommendations will be presented at a National Housing Forum to initiate dialogue with the state institutions and change the national housing policy. The main project target groups will be the public institutions (at national and local level) and local civil society organizations.
Summary of project results
Habitat Bulgaria carried out detailed sociological housing needs research in four Roma communities in the the two pilot regions - Sliven and Targovishte. In addition, the current municipal housing policies and practices in the municipalities of Sliven and Targovishte were reviewed. Based on the two researches four round tables were initiated to debate with local public institutions about the identified problems and possible solutions on local level. In parallel with that were analyzed the national housing regulations and the recommendations for their improvement were addressed to the responsible state institutions. All conclusions and recommendations were discussed at the national conference „Policies for improvement of the housing conditions of vulnerable groups on municipal and national level“, which took place on 14 April 2022 in a hybrid format ( both in-person and online) and attracted nearly 120 participants.
The main results of our work were summarized in the report “Housing conditions in neighbourhoods with a concentration of poverty and policies for their improvement”, which was disseminated to state institutions, all medium and large municipalities and many civil society organisations throughout the country.
Our goal-oriented project work brought the housing policies into the attention of municipal administrations and government agencies and encouraged them to consider the implementation of some of the proposed solutions: the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works initiated an amendment to the Spatial Planning Act rearding the regulation of the informal settlements; а legislation deficiency was identified as the social housing was not included in the Social Services Low as a service of general economic interest; the unoccupied housing fund is being already considered by state institutions as an opportunity to provide accommodation for people in housing need e.g. for war refugees from Ukraine.
Thanks to our diverse communication campaign and active use of social networks and other information channels, the housing issues have reached a wide audience and are increasingly recognized as an important element for the wellbeing of the Bulgarian society.
For more information visit the project’s FB page Жилищни политики в България (Housing policies in Bulgaria), and the Habitat Bulgaria’s website: https://hfh.bg/en/research-based-policy-development-2/