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Improving Access to Housing of Roma: Conference within the Decade of Roma Inclusion

Prague, 6.2.2011 13:04, (ROMEA)
ilustrační foto

More than 140 participants – representatives of institutions from the countries included in the Decade of Roma Inclusion, Roma NGOs, the European Commission and international organizations – took part in the conference “Improving Access to Housing for Roma”. It took place in Prague from February 2 to 4. The conference was organized by the Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Open Society Institute and the Government Office of the Czech Republic.

VIDEO
Day 1: Plenary Session, welcome and setting the frame work (english)
Day 1: Plenary Session, welcome and setting the frame work (romanes)
Day 2: reports from the workgroups, conclusions (english)
Day 2: reports from the workgroups, conclusions (romanes)

The aim of the conference was to ensure that housing projects and policies receive adequate attention as crucial part of inclusive policy within the framework of a comprehensive approach. This was the main massage of the plenary session. Miroslav Kalous (Deputy Minister of Regional Development of Czech Republic), Roscam Abbing and Eva Sobotka (FRA), Robert Bash (Open Society Fund – Prague), Alexandros Tsolakis (European Commission), Michael Guet (Council of Europe) and Katarina Mathernova (World Bank) explained their vision on the necessary integrated approach. Mr. Tsolakis insisted that the Amendment of Art. 7 of European Regional Development Fund provide a unique opportunity for housing intervention in Roma community.

It is of crucial importance now to have successful pilot projects in different member states that apply this opportunity in order to prove its necessity: otherwise this opportunity could be missed in the new Regulations for the next planning period, explained Tsolakis. He also added that the Commission is finalizing Guidance Note on the Implementation of Art.7 that would encourage the member states. Nevertheless, the activeness of NGOs and Roma community will be key factor. Katarina Mathernova pointed that the Commission introduced two additional conditions for using ERDF funds for improving the housing conditions of marginalized communities: this to be done within an integrated approach that includes not only housing but also “soft” measures (education, employment, and others) and this to help desegregation. Mrs. Mathernova explained that “desegregation” has different aspects: it is not necessary to mean demolishment of the Roma neighborhood but could mean improving its connections with the other neighborhoods, desegregation in education and employment, etc. It is important these conditions to be applied in all housing interventions in Roma community, claimed Katarina Mathernova.

Six working groups discussed different aspects of the topic: practical application of anti-discrimination legislation, housing and conflict, collaborative planning and mediating shared communities, social housing, good practices in rural and urban areas, making ERDF available for financing housing for marginalized communities. They were moderated respectively by Michail Beis (FRA), Catalin Berescu (architect), Maria Faraone (Oxford Brookes), Jozsef Hegedus (Metropolitan Research Institute), Eva Sobotka (FRA) and Alexandros Tsolakis (DG Regio, European Commission). Speakers were representatives of national institutions and Roma NGOs.

Thirty five participants attended the sessions of “Making ERDF available for financing housing for marginalized communities” (ERDF seminar) working group. It was co-organized by Making the most of EU funds for Roma (MtM) initiative of OSI. The working group was moderated by Alexandros Tsolakis and Adam Kullman. The objectives of the working group were to discuss the necessary content of Roma inclusion housing programs at national level and to facilitate the programming process by discussing the guidelines offered by the EC. Participants discussed also how to define the term “marginalized communities”, what kind of actions should be included in the so-called “integrated approach” and in which geographical areas housing interventions should take place. They agreed on using the term “marginalized communities” rather than “vulnerable groups” as better targeting Roma. The integrated approach should include interventions in housing, education, employment as well as in community mobilization and self-organizing. It is necessary such investment activities to cover not only Roma neighborhoods but the surrounding region in order to help desegregation and to achieve sustainable results.

Amalipe.com, OSF, ryz
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