Austrian SozialMarie award goes to Slovak project Dom.ov aiding Romani families with building housing
One of the SozialMarie awards for social innovation in Central Europe went to the Slovak project Dom.ov this year, which is aiding Romani families with building their own housing. "The Dom.ov project is aiding people from marginalized communities, especially Romani people, with securing their housing. Their acquisition of a bank loan is preceded by at least a year-long phase of savings during which the client puts aside money to buy land and undergoes financial education. The project teaches clients how to better manage their own incomes and prepares them to pay off the loan, or rather, the microloans," explains Marián Zeman of Dom.ov.
The entire process, according to Zeman, is a close collaboration between the clients, social workers, and local authorities, and builders are working on a daily basis with a construction teacher from the local community who guides them throughout the entire construction process. "If the family saves enough money, then they buy their land and build their house with their own labour, which means they have a relationship to these houses - they take responsibility for their own housing, they are not waiting to be given a key to an apartment by the local authority or the state. Moreover, they are acquiring other useful knowledge and skills that they can use in the future," Zeman says.
A total of 162 families joined the program, 110 are continuing with it, and 16 from Lenartovce and Rankovce already own houses approved for occupancy, while two more houses in Frička and Kojatice are about to be completed. The SozialMarie award for innovative projects in the social arena is annually given by the Austrian foundation Unruhe Privatstiftung.
The awards are given to projects in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovakia, as well in other countries within 300 km of Vienna as the crow flies. In recent years the award has been given, for example, to the Gypsy MaMa social enterprise run by the Tripitaka nonprofit in the Czech Republic, focusing on fashion, or by the Amaro Records social enterprise, a community recording studio and music café offering training jobs run by the IQ Roma servis organization in Brno.
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