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Slovak state fails to improve Romanies' access to housing-survey

Bratislava, 27.6.2008 21:24, (ROMEA/CTK)

The Slovak state and towns have not much helped build new flats for Romanies, as the relevant blocks of flats, of a low quality, are often situated far from town centres, thus deepening Romanies' separation from the rest of the population, a survey by the Milan Simecka Foundation has shown.

The survey its authors presented to journalists today, showed that Romanies themselves devastate their state-subsidised flats only rarely, the information refuting people's widespread belief in the opposite.

The foundation surveyed 68 towns which in 2001-2006 gained money from the Construction Ministry for building blocks of flats to rent.

Marek Hojsik, who carried out the survey for the foundation, told CTK that the towns insufficiently use other, cheaper and more effective, methods of solving the housing problem, different from building new flats.

He said the town halls could buy abandoned houses or reconstruct unused premises, originally not designed for housing.

The towns should also help Romanies with other than housing problems, Hojsik said.

He criticised the building of new blocks of flats on towns' outskirts.

"This in most cases fails to boost social integration. Flats have been built as segregated, which improves Romanies' living conditions but does not help improve their life situation as such," Hojsik pointed out.

He estimated the Romany population in the 5-million Slovakia at several hundreds of thousands.

The Romany community suffers from high unemployment and has bad access to education and health care. Many Romanies live in settlements consisting of shabby hovels without basic utilities.

Hojsik said the survey has refuted the traditional prejudice that the Romanies devastate their flats. According to him, the state of the flats also depends on whether its inhabitants participated in its construction.

The survey did not involve the Romany-inhabited houses that were built earlier in the past, such as Lunik IX, the now devastated housing estate in Kosice, east Slovakia.

The survey showed that the state-subsidies flats for Romanies are often of a low quality, prone to defects and with lacking devices such as eaves.

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