Slovak project where Roma build their own homes seems more feasible in village setting, for now
Almost all of the prefabricated housing on Hrebendova Street in Košice's Luník IX housing estate, long known for its concentrated population of Romani residents, has been demolished in recent years. The buildings had officially already been vacated and their reconstruction was considered an ineffective use of resources by the city, which is the largest in eastern Slovakia.
Three years ago the nonprofit organization ETP Slovakia proposed an initiative planning to address the use of that land for single-family homes to be built by their future inhabitants as a self-help measure. To this day, however, no new single-family homes have been built at the housing estate and Mayor Šaňa (SRK) of the Luník IX municipality does not see the project as realistic.
According to the mayor, local housing estate residents are not taking an interest in the project. ETP Slovakia has, however, successfully implemented a similar project in the village of Rankovce elsewhere in the district of Košice.
Stanislav Hada (SRK) has been the head of Rankovce municipality for 10 years now. He cannot say enough to praise the project for building houses through self-help.
"This is a super opportunity to give families a chance to live in dignity. I would certainly recommend it to all municipalities," Mayor Hada says.
The mayor of Rankovce, a village of fewer than 1 000 residents, says three phases of building have already been completed in the municipality and they never experienced any significant problems during the construction. "We began building the first phase in 2012, in collaboration with ETP Slovakia. That involved four single-family homes as a pilot because we wanted to know how it would work," he says.
The clients for the project were chosen by a social worker, and according to the mayor, four families in Rankovce without homes of their own were selected. One was even living in a caravan at the time.
First the families had to save EUR 50 per month for one year so the nonprofit could see they would be able to make housing payments. The money was then used by the future homeowners to buy land in Rankovce.
The families paid EUR 3 per square meter, and people bought plots of varying sizes. Overall, during the three phases of building in the village, 28 homes have been raised over the last eight years.
Four homes were built during the pilot phase, 11 during the second phase, and the most recent phase saw 13 constructions. The first two phases were implemented with ETP Slovakia, while the third phase was built with the nonprofit organization Projekt DOM.ov, established by the For a Better Life association and the Slovak branch of People in Need.
Hada explains that only Rankovce residents are allowed to participate. Many had still been living with their parents and wanted homes of their own.
In the Czech Republic a similar project was implemented around the turn of the millenium in the city of Ostrava, when the Life Together association organized the building of the Coexistence Village. The future residents of the housing - Romani people and socially vulnerable ethnic Czechs who had been made homeless by the 1997 floods - also built their own homes themselves.
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