Version endorsed by the CAHROM at its 4th meeting

CAHROM (2012)8


Strasbourg, 28 November 2012









by the experts of the CAHROM thematic group on



following the CAHROM thematic visit to Skopje,

“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, on 3-5 April 2012





Ms Mabera Kamberi, CAHROM Expert and Head of the Sector for Coordination and Technical Assistance, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy




Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Ms. Saliha Đuderija, Assistant Minister, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees

Ms. Ljiljana Šantić, Expert Advisor and Coordinator for Roma Housing in the same Ministry

Ms. Suzana Jasarević, Hilfswerk Austria International, Country Director of BiH Office



Mr Aleksa Djokić, Roma projects administrator, Office for National Minorities of the Government



Mr Felipe Vizcarro Germade, Head of Area of Housing, Deputy Directorate for Housing Policy, D.G. for Architecture, Housing and Landing, Ministry of Public Works






1.1Backgroundpage 3

1.2Composition of the thematic group of expertspage 3

1.3Agenda of the thematic visitpage 4

1.4Purpose of the request and expectations from the team of expertspage 4




2.1Council of Europepage 5

2.2Others (United Nations, OSCE, European Union, ERRC)page 6



3.1.Size and composition of the Roma groupspage 7

3.1.1 “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”page 7

3.1.2 Bosnia and Herzegovinapage 7

3.1.3 Croatiapage 7

3.1.4 Spainpage 8


3.2.Main problems identified in the field of (social) housingpage 9

3.2.1 “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”page 9

3.2.2 Bosnia and Herzegovinapage 9

3.2.3 Croatiapage 10

3.2.4 Spainpage 10


3.3General policy and legislation covering Roma (social) housing page 11

3.3.1 “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”page 11

3.3.2 Bosnia and Herzegovinapage 12

3.3.3 Croatiapage 12

3.3.4 Spainpage 14


3.4Concrete projects and measures undertakenpage 16

3.4.1 “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”page 16

3.4.2 Bosnia and Herzegovinapage 19

3.4.3 Croatiapage 25

3.4.4 Spainpage 27







Appendix 1: Formal invitation to CAHROMpage 33

Appendix 2:Agenda of the thematic visitpage 34

Appendix 3:List of participants of the thematic visitpage 34



  1. Background

The thematic group on social housing for Roma was set up at the request of Mrs Mabera Kamberi, (CAHROM member) on behalf of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” during the 2nd CAHROM meeting in Istanbul (22-25 November 2011). Initial contacts with Ms Kamberi were followed by a written invitation received by the Secretariat on 12 March 2012 from Mr Spiro Ristovski, Minister of Labour and Social Policy who formally invited CAHROM experts and the Council of Europe Secretariat to visit “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 3-5 April 2012 (see Appendix 1).


With a view to preparing the thematic report and visit, each expert of the thematic group was asked to provide background information about the situation of Roma, the legislative framework pertinent to the topic, and measures and policies towards Roma education, including financial means. Written background documents submitted by the requesting and partner countries and presentations made during the visit appear in an Addendum to this report.



  1. Composition of the thematic group of experts

The thematic group of experts was composed of Ms Kamberi from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of the requesting country, as well as of experts from partner countries, i.e. two persons from the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, another Bosnian expert working for the Sarajevo-based Office of an Austrian company Hilswerk International, the Roma Projects Administrator of the Office for National Minorities of the Government of Croatia and the Head of Housing Area in the Deputy Directorate for Housing Policy of the Directorate General for Architecture, Housing and Landing of the Ministry of Public Works of Spain.


The four countries participate in the Decade for Roma Inclusion (2005-2015) and have developed Decade Action Plans, including in the area of housing[2]. It is in the Roma Decade context that they had already taken part in joint activities in the field of social housing for Roma. A multi-destination visit, financed by the Decade Trust Fund, was organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Spain in 2011 during which country experts had a chance to visit grassroots housing projects and get familiar with national housing policy for Roma. In turn, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” wished to invite these countries to visit Skopje and Ms Kamberi used the newly established thematic working methods of the CAHROM to provide a follow-up to earlier multilateral contacts.


In the three Balkan countries, Roma are considered as a national minority and benefit from targeted and positive discrimination measures in the context of national Roma strategies. Spain does not recognise Roma as a minority; this group is nevertheless covered by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and Spain was the first country in Europe to adopt a targeted policy for Roma[3].


Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the requesting country have a shared common history as countries from ex-Yugoslavia. They have also a similar agenda and policy approach in the field of Roma housing policy: to develop inter alia a social housing policy for Roma. It was therefore useful to compare the different measures which had been undertaken as a priority. The longstanding Spanish experience in the field of Roma policy, as well as its experience as a EU member state, including in the use of European structural funds, was considered as an important asset for the team.


  1. Agenda of the thematic visit

The agenda of the visit included a series of bilateral meetings during the first day of the visit (3April) which allowed the CAHROM team of experts to have a better overview on the situation of Roma in the requesting country, as well to receive information about policy measures that the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Transport and Communication have already developed or intend to undertake in the near future in the field of social housing for Roma. In the afternoon a visit to Habitat for Humanity-Macedonia provided the team of experts with an opportunity to discuss concrete measures and impact. Roma representatives, including Mr Ashmet Elezovski from the Roma National Centre and member of the Executive Committee of the European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF) were present.


Presentations were followed by a series of questions and answers between local interlocutors and partner countries’ experts. The second day of the visit a round table was organised between the team of experts and representatives of ministries, organisations active in the field. The experts from partner countries were given the possibility to present in details their policy approach and a number of concrete measures and projects[4]. About 30 participants were present at the round table.


The morning of the 3rd day was devoted to a debriefing meeting between experts of the thematic group and the Secretariat. The agenda and the list of participants appear in Appendices 2 and 3 respectively. Presentations provided by experts from partner country and from interlocutors of the requesting country appear in the Addendum.


  1. Purpose of the request and expectations of the team of experts

A thematic exchange on social housing for Roma was timely for countries participating in this thematic group.


The Government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” is currently revising its national social housing policy, as well as its national Action Plans for the Decade of Roma Inclusion for the period 2009-2011, including the housing plan. The authorities were interested to gain experience from countries being engaged in a similar process such as Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The Government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” is also currently completing its housing legislation with three sets of legislation:



There was also a particular interest for getting information from partner countries regarding laws on social housing, housing-related legislation and methodology used to select beneficiaries of social houses. The country is also facing a change process through decentralisation of powers to local and regional authorities and therefore was interested to know more about the degree of involvement of local and regional actors in the implementation of housing-related policies.


Spain has just adopted its new national strategy for social inclusion of Roma in Spain 2012-2020, which includes a housing chapter with mid-term (2015) and long term (2020) objectives. Croatia is working on its new national Roma strategy that should be adopted by the Government before the end of 2012.




The issue of Roma housing has been extensively addressed and documented by European and international governmental and non-governmental organisations through conventions, recommendations, case-law, reports and specific projects. References to a number of those and specific quotations are made either in footnote of this thematic report or in the Addendum.


For additional research, it was felt; however, useful to recall the titles of the most relevant texts and documents of reference in this chapter.


2.1 Relevant Council of Europe standards, reference texts and documents



Additionally, apart from the relevant activities of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB)[12] and the reports of the relevant Council of Europe monitoring bodies (in particular the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), as well as the case law of the European Court of Human Rights[13], and the conclusions and decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights[14], the following Council of Europe reports and publications served as sources of inspiration for this thematic report:


2.2 Other relevant European and international standards, reference texts and documents


United Nations




European Union




Decade Watch




3.1. Size and composition of the Roma groups


3.1.1“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”


According to the 2002 population census, the official number of Roma is 53,000, i.e. 2.6% of the total population, though estimate figures suggest that the total number could be over 150,000, reaching above 9% of the total population.


Roma are recognised as a distinct ethnicity in the preamble of the Constitution. The Skopje neighbourhood of Shuto Orizari is Europe's first Roma municipality (led by a Roma mayor) and the only one in the world where the Romani language was granted an official status.


Roma do not concentrate in a particular region of the country, but are spread all over the territory. According to the 2002 population census, twenty-seven municipalities have a share of Roma exceeding one per cent; ten of them having more exceeding four per cent[20]. Ethnic differences are less relevant than the way of life, costume and appearance that the members of this group share. Most of them still speak their own language, Romani, together with the language that dominates in the regions where they are located, i.e. Macedonian and/or Albanian. A number of Macedonian Roma are Muslim, although some of them practise other religions too.


3.1.2Bosnia and Herzegovina


Between 25,000 and 30,000 Roma are estimated to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina according to recent research. 19,500 persons or 4,500 households require some type of assistance described in the Strategy and Action Plan. Other estimates consider that Roma population in Bosnia and Herzegovina could be estimated to 76,000 persons or 2% of the total population[21]. More detailed information regarding the housing situation of Roma can be found in chapter 3.4.




According to the 2001 population census, 9,463 Roma are living in Croatia, representing 0.21% of the total population. Fourteen counties have a significant Roma population, Međimurje being the county with most Roma inhabitants. More realistic estimates that can be also found in the National Roma Programme adopted by the Government estimate the Roma population to be between 30,000 and 40,000 (0.79% of the total population).


Many positive measures linked to the implementation of the National Roma Programme, particularly those in the field of education, has led to an increase in number of persons declaring themselves to be members of the Roma national minority. This should be reflected in the results of the 2011 population census which are not yet available. Roma were encouraged to identify themselves as such in the census since it plays a role on eligibility for Roma-targeted activities and projects, and for affirmative actions/positive discrimination.


Croatian Roma consist of a variety of different groups according to their religion (mostly Catholic and Orthodox Christians but also Muslims), language (Romani and Beash), and origin (autochthonous, Roma originated from ex-Yugoslavia, etc.). Practically all Roma in Croatia are sedentary Roma; since many years, travelling/nomadic Roma communities no longer exist in Croatia.


According to the 2001 census, Roma were living in 171 settlements, 19 of them having a Roma population larger than 100 Roma persons. The total number of households was 2,099. Average size of a house was 56.8 square meters. Just below 40 % of these dwellings had indoor toilets and bathrooms, exactly half had waterworks, 44.8 % sewerage, 84.8 % electricity and only 10 % had central heating. In Međimurje, the county with the highest number of Roma in Croatia, and where most of infrastructure interventions are taking place, Roma, according to the 2011 census, live in the most difficult conditions (average house size 34.2 sq. m., while 6.8 % had a bathroom, 7.3 % toilet, 16.0 % waterworks, 8.8 % sewerage, and 73.3 % electricity[22].




Roma people (locally called Gitanos, an accepted term) have been present in Spain since the 15th century. As in the rest of Europe, their history has been marked by persecution and phases of social exclusion. Currently, the Spanish Roma population stands at around 725,000-750,000 (1.63% of the total population). They speak Spanish (some of them also speak the Caló dialect).


In Spain, the Constitution does not formally recognise or define ethnic minorities[23]. Nor is there any state or government institution or agency responsible for minorities. Roma are therefore not recognised as a national minority. This group is, nevertheless, from a pragmatic point of view covered by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Spain has adopted and developed at the level of the State and Autonomous Communities (Regions) a series of targeted Roma programmes since 1985 and has a State Council of Roma Community since 2005.


In spite of the limitations in determining the total scale of the Roma population in Spain, it is accurately known that the Roma people are distributed across the national territory, with a most concentrated presence in Andalusia, where around 40% of Spanish Roma reside, as well as in Catalonia, Valencia and Madrid. Although their history has been associated with rural life and geographic mobility, the current trend is for prolonged, stable settlement in urban areas which consolidated in the 1950s, 60s and 70s to coincide with the general wave of domestic migration between rural areas and cities.


In the field of housing recent studies compared with older studies reveal a significant improvement in the residential conditions of the Roma population in recent decades. Many Roma families have had access to a dwelling in many neighbourhoods in Spain. The access to a dwelling has occurred both through public and private housing.


According to the latest study published in 2008[24] covering the housing conditions of over 90,000 Roma households in 2007, 88.1% of Roma live in standard housing and only 3.9% live in shanty towns while another 7.8% live in precarious buildings.


These results represent a significant improvement over those obtained in the previous study from 1991[25] when 10% of Roma dwellings were living in slums and 21.4% in precarious buildings.


The basic equipment of the houses has also been considerably improved over this period. The 2007 study shows that 19.5% of houses of Roma lack basic urban services or basic equipment.



3.2. Main problems identified in the field of (social) housing


  1. Problems identified in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

In the area of housing for Roma, the Government is confronted with four main problems:


  1. the Roma population does not know sufficiently the regulations and administrative procedures in the field of property and does not have enough support for accessing information;
  2. despite (social) housing policies and programmes for vulnerable categories of population, Roma do not have sufficient access to housing, especially young married couples;
  3. the housing situation of the Roma population needs to be scanned from all aspects (there is a need for concrete statistical data). Local scanning is very important because of the competencies of the Units of Local Self-Governments (ULSG) in the area of housing and in order to make needs and impact assessments;
  4. temporary accommodation is not adequate (the same problem applies to everyone, but it especially affects the Roma population). There are no regulated procedures for leaving temporary accommodation or for granting durable housing.


About 80,000 households lack long-term housing solutions, and 12 per cent of the housing stock is sub-standard. The average age of buildings in the country is 30 years, and because of poor maintenance, most are in need of immediate replacement or renovation.


Living conditions of rural poor Roma are particularly bad. The primary need is access to water and proper sewerage. Housing conditions are particularly bad for Roma households. About 320,000 people, almost 15 per cent of the country’s population, live in illegally constructed buildings. The capital city, Skopje, hosts squatter settlements of about 120,000 people. It has the largest Roma community in Europe, which lives in a ghetto-like environment.


According to Habitat for Humanity-Macedonia, many Roma live in illegal houses, with less than 5 sq. meters per person; they have limited access to finances, are not enough represented in state institutions; lack education and have sub-standard living conditions with little access to basic infrastructure.


  1. Problems identified in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In 2004 ERRC reported that several years after the warring parties had ratified the Dayton Peace Agreement (Nov. 1995) that provided for the return of refugees into the country, many Roma families who had returned to Bosnia from Western Europe still did not have access to their pre-war homes which were occupied or destroyed. Many of these families were temporarily placed in unauthorised and substandard locations or settlements with no water supply or sanitary infrastructure.


It was repeatedly said that the substandard housing conditions of Roma negatively affect their access to education and employment, as well as access to healthcare institutions and generally prompt deterioration in the health of people living in these settlements, hence the priority given to housing by the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Remaining challenges identified during the implementation of Roma housing projects include:


  1. Problems identified in Croatia

The Croatian Ombudsman in its 2010 report recommended that, “due to difficult conditions in some Roma settlements, Government should put more efforts into the legalisation, and the improvement of the social housing system, while keeping in mind the issue of spatial segregation”. Other reports, including the 2010 Report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, referred to settlements with extremely difficult conditions, such as Struge in Zagreb.


As in many other transition countries during the nineties, Croatia privatised most of its former stock of social housing. Traditionally, the ownership of house or an apartment has been a preferred modality, and members of Roma national minority are not an exception. Therefore, housing assistance provided to owners plays an extremely important role in improving the housing situation of Roma. As a result, in today’s Croatia, most of housing is privately owned, with a very limited social housing stock. Therefore, it has so far been difficult for authorities to provide social housing for vulnerable Roma and non-Roma families. A large majority of Roma families are living in their own houses, frequently in a relatively bad condition, illegally constructed on a plot of land which is not their property.


There is in Croatia a general lack of data and studies, which makes it impossible to evaluate the impact of measures undertaken, and provide an estimate of Roma position within social housing in Croatia. This is again a problem which is being addressed in the context of the drafting of the new Roma Integration Strategy 2013-2020.


Most of Croatian cities do not have ethnically disaggregated data on beneficiaries of their housing programmes. A key problem is that a large number of local self-governments are relatively undeveloped, and unable to provide sufficient funds to improve the housing situation of Roma. On the other hand, cities are able to provide apartments, again not as a part of a special local Roma strategy, but within their mainstream welfare programmes[26]. Many other mid-size or small towns have also provided apartments, but have no data on ethnic affiliation of beneficiaries.


The few housing data available refer to the housing situation of Roma in general, not to the issue of social housing for Roma in particular. The preliminary findings of UNDP Household Survey conducted in 2011 indicate that the general Roma situation in Croatia is not as bad as in other countries covered by the survey; however, the gap between Roma and non-Roma is the biggest.


There is a need for capacity-building of Roma and non-Roma non-governmental organisations. And for a system of micro-credits that could help Roma families for employment and housing.


  1. Problems identified in Spain

Besides the need to completely eradicate the slums –shantytowns, Roma shacks, there are still other problems among which the high level of occupancy of dwellings and problems of insecurity and deterioration of equipment both in their own homes and in urban environments. There is also a lack of basic equipment, humidity problems and a lack of urban facilities.


In the last decade in Spain many more houses than necessary have been constructed (considering the demand by new families). However, this fact has not been effective in solving the problem of accessing to a dwelling for an important number of families, including Roma families. More than 700,000 new houses were built in just a year, almost doubling the figure of new families and in spite of this excess in production the price of houses soared by 150% in a decade. The growth experienced by the construction sector has not been based in its sustainability.


3.3. General policy and legislation covering Roma (social) housing


3.3.1.“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”


The domestic legal framework covering the issue of Roma housing includes the following:



Co-ordination is ensured with other national strategies and plans, such as:



The general objective of the revised National Action Plan on Housing for the period 2009-2011[27] foresees that at least 400 Roma households are housed according to the minimal housing standards by the end of 2011, through social housing and renewal or reconstruction of homes, as well as urbanisation and improvement of the infrastructure of settlements mostly inhabited by Roma.


The revised National Action Plan on Housing also sets out the following five specific objectives:


  1. At least 60 Roma households are housed through social housing and conditions for additional housing are created through granting 3% of the construction parcels planned for sale, if the preconditions for undertaking measures are fulfilled;
  2. 300 Roma households are completely housed according to the minimal standards of housing through urbanisation of settlements mostly inhabited by Roma. It includes the provision of administrative support to Roma to acquire identity documents;
  3. At least 20 Roma households annually obtain minimum housing standards through the renewal or reconstruction of their homes;
  4. Improved infrastructure (streets, waterworks, sewerage) in 13 settlements mostly inhabited by Roma;
  5. Needs assessment of the housing conditions and capacity-building for the Roma population on housing-related issues for the Roma population, through estimation of the needs and strengthening capacities.


Both state and non-governmental institutions are involved in the field of housing. The main responsible public structure is the Ministry of Transport and Communication. Other public partners include the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (for vulnerable groups), enterprises that manage the state-owned residential or business premises, the Fund for National Roads, the Units of Local Self-Governments, and the Agency for spatial planning. Relevant non-state actors include Habitat for humanity and UN-Habitat.


Due to the recent decentralisation process, the distribution of responsibilities has been redefined: the Ministry plans, the Government approves, the municipalities co-fund. The citizens are supposed to find housing by themselves. There is, however, some support from the state for certain categories of citizens, as well as free accommodation in daily centres.


3.3.2.Bosnia and Herzegovina


Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the Decade of Roma Inclusion on 4 September 2008. The following year started the implementation of the Action Plan on Roma Housing adopted in July 2008.


The Roma Decade Housing Action Plan[28] includes the following three main objectives:


During the conflict each of the ethnic groups established their own administrations that among other things, administered 'abandoned' property. Legislation was enacted in all areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina that deprived individuals of their property and allocated such property to other individuals on either a temporary or permanent basis. Property was supposed to be allocated to individuals with humanitarian needs, but often was not done so[29].




In October 2003, the Croatian Government adopted a National Programme for Roma with a view to providing systematic assistance to Roma to improve their living conditions and to include them in social life and decision-making processes in their local and wider community, while at the same time preserving their identity, culture and traditions, and in 2005 the Government adopted the Roma Decade Action Plan[30].


The fact that the Deputy Prime Minister is the National Coordinator of the Decade and the President of the Commission for the Monitoring of the Implementation of the National Roma Programme clearly shows the importance this issue has for the Croatian government.


The National Commission for the Monitoring of the Implementation of the National Roma Programme comprises five working groups; one of them is Physical Planning and Housing. The implementation of the Roma Decade Action Plan on housing is monitored by this working group. Roma are represented in all of the above mentioned working groups. In addition, Roma minority councils and NGOs are frequently playing an important role in improving the position of Roma, including on housing, through their cooperation with local self-government and other relevant authorities.


Housing, together with the regularisation of civil status and education, is one of the priorities of the Croatian government. In regard to the social housing, most of housing is privately owned, with very limited social housing stock. Therefore the main thrust of activities has always been on improving the position of a large majority of Roma families who are living in their own houses, frequently in a relatively bad condition, illegally constructed on a plot of land which is not their property.


In line with the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 and related documents (Europe 2020 Strategy, etc.), the Government Office for National Minorities has initiated preparations for a new National Roma Strategy. The consultation has started in July 2011, and it is expected that the process, conducted with the full participation of all stakeholders, including Roma representatives, independent experts, international organisations with proven technical expertise (UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, OSI, etc.), and EC/DEU, will result in a significantly improved main policy document related to the welfare of the Roma minority in Croatia. The Strategy is also expected to refer to issues of spatial desegregation (degetthoization), lack of more integrated intervention, as well as to lessons learned during the implementation of EU funded Roma support projects.


The Social Housing Strategy is still under development. According to the Report On The Implementation of the Joint Inclusion Memorandum (JIM) of the Republic of Croatia in 2010: ˝The Social Housing Strategy is being prepared, but still has not been adopted, because the analysis report concerning the Croatia Housing Needs Assessment, implemented by the Centre for the Development of Non-profit Organisations, is still being prepared, as well as due to budgetary cuts, both on the national level and the level of local self-government units necessary for the implementation of the strategy. The set deadline for the drawing up of the Social Housing Strategy is one year from the submission of the Croatia Housing Needs Assessment. The Strategy plans to include the Europe 2020 Strategy targets.˝


This is somewhat compensated by several examples of housing programmes, catering to the needs of persons at risk of social exclusion: the Housing Programme for Victims of the Homeland War, the Socially-Supported Housing Construction Programme, the Housing Programme for Returnees and Former Holders of Tenancy Rights over Apartments outside Areas of Special State Concern, etc. None of them specifically refers to the Roma national minority, and frequently their statistics are not ethnically disaggregated. However, the Ministry for Regional Development reported in January 2012 that within the framework of housing care programmes in the Areas of Special State Concern, that is the war-affected areas comprising approximately 30 % of Croatian territory, 105 Roma families were provided with different forms of housing care: houses, damaged houses with material and basic funds for reconstruction, state-owned apartments etc., while applications of 73 families were under consideration.


In addition, the National Implementation Plan on Social Inclusion 2011-2012, quotes as one of the key challenges, i.e. ˝to define and develop the concept of social housing; to develop a more appropriate system of housing subsidies and assistance for households with poor housing situation.˝


Other policy measures introduced in order to mitigate harmful consequences of the recent economic crisis include the new Act on Stimulating the Sale of Apartments and the Act on Amendments to the Act on Real Property Transfer Tax. The largest and most important part of the amendments refers to provisions stipulating tax basis, tax exemption for the purchase of the first real property and the moment of enforcement of the decision on the determination of the real property transfer tax.


Especially important in this context is the Welfare Law[31]. Articles 49-54 refer to obligations or possibilities for Local Self-governments (LSGs) and/or Welfare Centres to provide either housing or subsidies (housing allowance) for rent, electricity, heating, water etc., while Articles 103-109 refer to the obligation to provide temporary accommodation to families/persons in direct need.




Article 47 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution (1978) recognises the right to housing:


“All Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing. The authorities shall promote the conditions necessary and establish pertinent norms to make this right effective, regulating the use of land in accordance with the general interest to prevent speculation. The community shall share in the increased values generated by urban activities of public bodies.”


The main Spanish regulations covering housing for Roma include:



Both the National Strategy and the Housing Plan propose to eradicate shanty towns or precarious buildings and to improve the quality of dwellings for Roma population. Another important target is to improve infrastructures and urban facilities in the neighbourhoods where Roma people live. More specifically the objectives of the National Strategy – which are detailed in the Addendum - are the following:



Roma-related programmes, plans and structures developed at national, regional and local levels include the following:

At national level:


- Plan de Acción para el desarrollo de la Población Gitana 2010-2012;

- Programa de Desarrollo Gitano. Instituto de Cultura Gitana;

- Consejo Estatal del Pueblo Gitano.

In Extremadura:


- Plan Extremeño para la Promoción y Participación Social del Pueblo Gitano;

- Consejo Regional para la Comunidad Gitana de Extremadura.

In Andalusia:


- Plan Integral para la Comunidad Gitana de Andalucía;

- Secretaría para la Comunidad Gitana de Andalucía;

- Centro Socio-Cultural Gitano Andaluz.

In Catalonia:


- Plan Integral del Pueblo Gitano de Cataluña;

- Consejo Asesor del Pueblo Gitano de Cataluña (2009-2013).

In the Basque country:


- Plan Vasco para la Promoción Integral y la Participación Social del Pueblo Gitano;

- Consejo para la Promoción Integral y Participación Social del Pueblo Gitano en el País Vasco.

In Navarra:

- Plan Integral de Atención a la Población Gitana de Navarra (2011-2014).


In financial terms, Roma programmes and plans are funded by the state budget, as well as regional and local budgets. EU funds are also being used.


The objectives of the Housing and Rehabilitation State Plan 2009-2012 are the following:


For the first time in Spain, the National Plan for housing policies includes the word “rehabilitation”. Rehabilitation interventions represent 47% of the total number of predicted in the Housing Plan. More than 350,000 houses will be rehabilitated during the period 2009-2012. The rehabilitation process is reinforced using direct subsidies and loans (see Chapter 3.4.4. below). The process is based on cooperation between the three levels of Public Administration that coexist in Spain (municipalities, regions and the State).


Given the high degree of decentralisation and the broad powers assigned to Autonomous Communities in a number of pertinent fields, co-ordination among various actors is a key element. The housing policy in Spain is based on the agreement among different Administrations since important funds are coming from the central Administration through the Housing State Plans and need an adjustment to the peculiarities of the Autonomous Communities and the necessary involvement of the citizens through local administrations.


This system of management can guarantee that the aid programmes are received by the beneficiaries in the most efficient way and are based on collaboration agreements between the Ministry and the Autonomous Communities which, in many programmes, are also extended to the municipalities.


The intervention of private actors is also a sine qua non for an efficient management of the Housing Plans. Financial entities that collaborate in the process of management of some aid programmes and the land promoters for protected houses and construction companies have a very relevant role for the follow-up of the objectives of the Plan.


It is also significant to count on the collaboration of social representatives who know directly the needs of the groups of people who will be given preference in housing schemes. These are low income citizens and those who need a special treatment due to a severe difficulty in acceding a home whether it is by their life stage, like young people or people older than 65 years old, or through special urgent reasons in order to dispose of lodging for the victims of gender violence, terrorism, and those affected by catastrophes, or due to dependency or disability.


The Housing and Rehabilitation State Plan contains 6 pillars and 12 programmes:


1.- Promotion of protected houses (controlled price)

- Promotion of protected houses both for renting and for sale.

2.- Subsidies for applicants

- Subsidies for tenants;

- Subsidies for buyers of protected houses.

3.- Rehabilitation and Renovation Areas

- ARIS (Areas of rehabilitation);

- ARUS (Renewal Areas);

- Subsidies to eradicate shanty towns or precarious buildings.

4.- Subsidies for individual Rehabilitation and energy efficiency in new constructions

- Subsidies for individual rehabilitation;

- Subsidies for promoting energy efficiency in new constructions.

5.- Subsidies to urbanise land for future protected houses

6.- Subsidies for information and processing the Plan.


The Plan sets a preference for the most vulnerable groups in relation to access to a dwelling. The aid referred to in the Plan consists in direct aids, in the access to loans on more affordable conditions or in subsidisation of such loans.


3.4. Concrete projects and measures undertaken in the field of Roma (social) housing


3.4.1.“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”


Projects implemented by authorities


According to the data provided by the Ministry of Transport and Communication, in terms of activities of the National Action Plan for Housing, during the period of 2008-2010, the Ministry of Transport and Communication in co-operation with the municipalities that are predominantly inhabited by Roma implemented the following:


Infrastructural projects




Sanitary and storm sewer,

reconstruction of the sewerage network


Sveti Nikole

Shuto Orizari

Prilep, Stip, Karpos, Kicevo, Topaana, Gazi Baba, Kumanovo

Installation of water supply systems, reconstruction of the water supply network,

reconstruction of streets

Shuto Orizari


Stip, Bitola, Delcevo, Veles, Vinica

Underground installations and asphalt paving



Bitola, Kocani, Vinica

Construction of supporting structures





Housing projects for socially vulnerable groups: in compliance with the Government’s decision stating that 10% of planned social housing are to be allocated to Roma, the following has been undertaken:


Construction of social housings allocated to Roma families







Skopje / Gorce Petrov


19 units





7 units




9 units




4 units




10 units


With the start of the project under IPA Component I 2008 dating from 17 January 2011, international experts have been engaged continually for the purpose of conducting analyses and determining the need for training, and determining the need to prepare local action plans, in co-operation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.


According to the data collected by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, local action plans for housing exist in the following municipalities:







Revision in progress



Revision in progress



Revision of the LAP


Shuto Orizari

Revision of the LAP



New LAP needed



LAP for Housing exists



LAP exists


Kriva Palanka

New LAP needed



Preparation of new LAP in progress



Preparation of new LAP in progress


Sveti Nikole

Expressed interest regarding the preparation of a new LAP


In 2010, 10,894,000 MKD were allocated from the state budget for the realisation of sewerage infrastructure projects for 13 municipalities that are predominantly inhabited by Roma. The funds were used by 11 municipalities.


In 2011, 10,986,000.00 MKD were allocated from the state budget by the Ministry of Transport and Communications[32] for the realisation of projects to implement the Roma Decade Action Plan for housing, the housing chapter of the Roma Strategy and the National Action Plan for Housing. Sewerage infrastructure projects were carried out in the following municipalities: Bitola, Cair, Stip, Gazi Baba, Kocani, Kicevo, Prilep, Delcevo, and Gorce Petrov[33]. The following projects have been implemented:


  1. Municipality Bitola: 2,086,000 MKD for the reconstruction of the pavement of Ljubljana street, parts 1,2,3 in settlement Bair;


  1. Municipality Chair: 1,700,000 MKD for reconstruction of streets 376/1 and 376/2 in the settlement Stare Topanga;


  1. Municipality Gaza Baba: 1,500,000 MKD for the construction of faecal sewerage on street no. 12 in settlement Jugular;


  1. Municipality Kowhai: 1,000,000 MKD for the construction of a support wall on Stamen Manor street - part 2;


  1. Municipality KOCEV: 1,000,000 MKD for the reconstruction of the river bed and streets;


  1. Municipality Pileup: 900,000 MKD for the construction of sewerage on part of Petrovska street;


  1. Municipality Deceive: 800,000 MKD for the reconstruction of a part of the supply network, zone circle pipeline KRAK 2.


In 2011 a total of 30 apartments were awarded to members of the Roma community, based on the Announcement released in 2009 for the allocation of housing flats built during the Housing project for socially vulnerable groups - F / P 1674, which is partly financed with a loan amounting to 25,350,000 Euros from the Council of Europe Development Bank in accordance to the Loan Agreement F / P 1674 (2009), and partly with 25,350,000 Euros from the state budget.


Projects implemented by NGOs and/or international partners


         Legalisation of the housing of Roma people implemented by Habitat for Humanity-Macedonia, Open Society Foundation (OSI) and Roma National Centre (RNC)-Kumanovo


The project should provide financial, administrative and technical support for the legalisation of the houses of the Roma population. It has four year duration (2012-2015).


A contract for the legalisation of housing of Roma people was signed with Open Society Foundation, the civil organisation Roma National Centre (RNC) from Kumanovo and the association for humanitarian housing Habitat Macedonia on 18 January 2012.


The total budget for the project amounts to 905,208 US dollars.


Each partner has been given certain responsibilities.


Roma National Centre’s president, Mr Ashmet Elezovski, is in charge under this project of informing Roma people about possibilities to legalise their homes, and then to fully help them in the process of legalisation. For that purpose, the Roma National Centre has already opened a Resource Centre in Kumanovo where all interested Roma people can gain technical legal assistance.


Habitat-Macedonia, a part of Habitat for Humanity, a US-based non-profit Christian organisation that provides housing to low-income families, has been given responsibility to develop a series of measures related to Roma social housing.


In co-operation with the Microcredit Foundation Horizonti, an organisation specified in micro-credits for housing purposes (for reconstruction/renovation/repair)[34] it has provided micro-loans for Roma families. Horizonti provides financial services to low-income populations through business loans for microenterprises and small housing repair loans.


The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) has provided a donation (through the Norway Trust Fund) to “Housing Microfinance for Roma and Marginalised Groups”, mainly for the development and the testing of this micro-credit project[35].


First micro-loans were developed first in Shuto Orizari I municipality[36] and then extended to other cities with significant Roma population. Open Society Institute (OSI) and Roma National Centre (RNC) are associated with this programme.


In line with the basic principles of Habitat for Humanity, other ethnic groups from the same municipality should not be excluded, as long as they comply with the loan conditions. Specific objectives of the project are development of credit lines, which should:



The Roma Housing Fund is implemented through a credit line that offers loans from 500 to 1,700 Euros with a maximum repayment period of 30 months. The families that are eligible for this phase must already be Horizonti customers. Micro-loans are especially given to Roma women.


About 300 requests for loans were received.



It was decided that loans could also be disbursed to help Roma people preparing documentation and covering the fees for the legalisation of their home.


This disbursement of loans was organised so as to ensure sustainability of the assistance programme so that more Roma families can benefit from it and in the long term.


This project is part of the Housing programme for Roma financed by the programme UNDHP. Four action plans were developed to lobby and inform Roma about their housing rights:


  1. To support people who wanted to benefit from the Law on Legalisation;


  1. To increase the number of legally owned houses by Roma;


  1. To conduct awareness-raising campaign;


d) To provide legal aid, monitoring and advocacy. A support resource centre for legal aid prepared a legal database of loans’ applicants.



  1. Bosnia and Herzegovina


Contribution to the Roma housing projects from the side of authorities


In order to implement the Action Plan on Housing adopted in July 2008, the Ministry decided in 2009 to plan in the state budget 1,500,000 Euros each year during the Roma Decade period. Out of this amount, 1,000,000 Euros was allocated for Roma housing, the main priority.


Based on the planned financial means, the Ministry announced a public call for submitting Roma housing projects in June 2009. The public call lasted for a month. All municipalities, cities, cantons, entities, local and international organisations and institutions and NGOs had the right to apply with projects.


The Commission in charge of the selection of the projects received 34 project proposals and nine projects were funded by the state budget. The Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) decided to provide funds for eight additional Roma housing projects that met all requested criteria. The state Roma housing projects are intended for the most vulnerable Roma families. Priority was given to construction of Roma houses, as well as reconstruction and improvement of living conditions and infrastructure of existing houses.


On top of the state budget and SIDA funds, municipalities and local and international NGOs, as implementers of the projects, participated with their own means. Co-financing was crucial in the decision taken by the Commission in charge of the selection of the projects. Taking into consideration all invested funds in Roma housing in 2009, a total of 2,900,000 Euros was spent.


Attention was paid to the number of housing units and costs per Roma housing units in the projects. Infrastructure connections were obligatory. Roma representatives participated in selection process and in the independent monitoring.


Once a project was approved, a Commission in charge of the selection of beneficiaries was set up. It consisted of: municipal representative, social welfare centres representatives, implementing partners and of two local Roma representatives. This Commission selected the most vulnerable Roma families that would be beneficiaries of the project. Representatives of the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina were observers of the selection process.


The Roma housing projects that were approved in 2009 were realised in 2010, taking into consideration that the implementers had to respect all legal procedures for selection of construction companies, public procurement procedures, etc.


The construction/reconstruction of Roma housing units was done in accordance with Regulations on unified housing standards and conditions for reconstruction (minimum living conditions as per legislation). In the Regulations, all construction conditions were prescribed (inner walls, roof, isolation, bathroom equipment, infrastructure connections, etc.).


The results of the 2009 Roma Housing Projects are as follows:


In 2010 the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina planned in the state budget the same amount for Roma housing (i.e. 1,000,000 EUR). The Federation Ministry for Spatial Planning joined their means, in the amount of 150,000 EUR.


In order to receive more Roma housing projects that would meet all criteria, the Ministry organised regional workshops and trained local authorities and NGOs how to prepare the projects.


The public call for Roma housing projects for 2010 was announced in June 2010 and lasted for a month.


The Commission in charge of the selection of the projects received 41 project proposals and 34 met all requested criteria. The Commission visited all Roma locations proposed in the submitted projects and decided to provide funds for 13 Roma housing projects.


The realisation of the Roma housing projects from 2010 was continued in 2011. The Ministry had joined financial means of the Ministry for Spatial Planning of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2011 and decided to finance three projects.


The realisation of 2010 and 2011 projects is still on-going. The budgetary means have been planned for 2012 as well. The cycle of selection of Roma housing projects and planning of funds will be continued each year in the same way.


Perspectives for the future:


A request was made in 2011 to IPA for an amount of six million Euros, 80% of which for housing.

UNDP will help Bosnian authorities to revise the housing programme and to optimise the central database of all users and beneficiaries of the Roma housing projects.



HWA objectives are


HWA activities focus on:


Areas of HWA activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1996 and 2011:


In 2009 HWA performed the Study “Assessment of needs for social housing in Bosnia and Herzegovina” under a contract with the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees.


The purpose of the research was to obtain information on total social housing needs in Bosnia and Herzegovina covering 12 most vulnerable categories by gender and age.


The research included families with unsolved housing problem and excluded persons with temporary right to stay in the municipalities (displaced persons and refugees).


A total of 119 municipalities (84.4%) answered the survey. The analysis of the results showed that 28,322 households were in need for social housing, i.e. more than 53,000 persons. 77% of these households were living in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), whilst 23% were living in Republika Srpska (RS).


The categories of beneficiaries included in the survey and the number of households concerned were the following:


  1. Households with extremely low incomes (below poverty line) – 8,182 households;
  2. Households of minority groups (except for Roma) – 88 households;
  3. Roma households – 1,391 households (see below);
  4. Families of killed war veterans – 4,583 households;
  5. Households with disabled persons (except for the civil victims of war) – 8,659 households;
  6. Households with the civil victims of war – 2,597 households;
  7. Households of single parents – 968 households;
  8. Households with under-aged children without parental care – 336 households;
  9. Households placed in collective centres (except for the displaced persons) – 395 households;
  10. Households placed in temporary accommodation – 553 households;
  11. Persons living in improvised accommodations (containers, sheds, garages) – 359 households;
  12. Homeless people (people without shelters of any kind) – 219 households.


1,256 households in the whole country were considered as most vulnerable as they belonged to two and more of the abovementioned categories.


1,391 were Roma families (i.e. 5.968 persons). This included 1,079 Roma families in 31 municipalities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), and 312 Roma families in eight municipalities of Republika Srpska (RS).


As regards the housing project for Roma for the year 2009, the total project costs – for a duration of 18 months - amounted to 2,336,300 KM. The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees covered 1,553,000 KM (66% of total costs), whilst HWA, municipality and other ministries jointly covered 783,700 KM (34% of total costs).


Direct beneficiaries included Roma families who were residents in targeted municipalities and who had not solved their housing problem and/or lived in inhabitable housing units.


The total number of Roma beneficiaries was 70 families (about 400 persons) from the municipalities of Zenica (16 families), Kiseljak (15 families), Jajce (19 families) and Bijeljina (20 families).


Example of the project in Zenica: the 16 Roma families (75 persons) who benefited from the project were living in collective centres and used to live – before the war –in now fully damaged barracks belonging to Željezara (Kasine and Blatuši). They were granted to right to use the flats for the period of five years. Families must pay the rent, maintenance and utilities and are obliged to send their children to school regularly. Every five years their status and right for social housing is re-examined.


As regards the housing project for Roma for the year 2010, the total project costs – for a duration of 12 months and for two municipalities (Tuzla and Banovići) - amounted to 752,000 KM (600.000 KM covered by MHRR and 152,000 KM covered by HWA/municipality/other ministries).


Direct beneficiaries were Roma families who were residents in the two targeted municipalities and who did not have solved housing issue and/or lived in inhabitable housing units.


The total number of Roma beneficiaries was 28 families (about 100 persons), i.e. 15 families in Tuzla and 13 families in Banovići.




In all key phases (beneficiaries’ selection, best contractor, technical inspection, over-handing and technical acceptance of works) all relevant actors were involved, i.e.:


Tender procedures were prepared in accordance with the Law on Public Procurement of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The selection of beneficiaries was done on the basis of a public call in accordance to pre-established criteria by the Committee for the Selection of Beneficiaries (CSB).


Use of alternative methodology in case of eventual non-cooperation and/or avoidance of fulfilment of obligation by other project stakeholders;


Results of the projects housing for Roma 2009/2010



Planned number of housing units


Kiseljak, settlement Hrastovi



Jajce, settlement Skela, Kuprešani



Zenica, settlement Brist - social housing



Bijeljina, RS


24 + infrastructure


76 housing units and 5 septic tanks (out of 70 planned) were totally built or reconstructed. The building/reconstruction of 28 housing units inTuzla and Banovići is under progress.


Problems identified during this project during the selection process of beneficiaries:


Problems identified during this project as regards standards and project knowledge:


HWA recommendations:



The Decade Watch in its April 2011 report on the implementation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Action Plan for addressing issues faced by the Roma in employment, housing and health care (April 2011) indicated - on pages 62-63 - some of the problems encountered during the implementation of the Roma housing project in Bosnia and Herzegovina and listed a series of recommendations related to public calls, projects, contracts and the database[38].



The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) decided to provide funds for additional 8 Roma housing projects that met all requested criteria (five in FbiH and three in RS/Brcko district). The contract was signed with Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees in November 2009 for a planned funding amounting to 2,175,800 KM.


Since a lot of other projects meeting the prescribed criteria could not be funded due to lack of funds, SIDA decided to finance other projects that meet the criteria, for an amount of SEK 10,500,000, or 2,015.000 KM. In this way it was possible to finance additional projects in Banja Luka, Kladanj, Vitez, Travnik and Bihac.



As far as the housing situation of refugees is concerned, the Council of Europe Development Bank will soon provide a loan of 80 million Euros to be used to support those who are living in collective centres, including Roma, through social housing. The project was drafted by the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and UNHCR.


  1. Croatia


Measures implemented by state, local and regional authorities


One the first measure of the Government was to create conditions for the urbanisation of areas settled by Roma. The expected result is urbanisation and the raising of the standard of living of the Roma. Among the measures implemented towards achieving this goal, in 2004 and 2005, the Ministry of Space Planning funded a large research project, published as a book entitled 'How do Croatian Roma Live'[39] that gives a very detailed analysis of all aspects of life, including housing situation.


According to the summary of County Action Plans in the Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan for 2005-2006[40], there were 34 locations with Roma population which were not integrated into the main settlements, and therefore not covered by the local self-government urban regulations. In the meantime, 15 local self-governments have developed for 16 locations a total of 23 detailed spatial development plans, with a total value of 255,000 EUR provided from the state budget. Wherever possible, municipalities have included Roma settlements into urbanisation plans. These are preconditions for further improvement, and a part of systematic efforts to improve the housing situation.


In terms of social housing, the biggest role is played by Local Self-Governments (LSGs). Following the huge loss of social housing through privatisation, which drastically limits any social housing policy due to the absence of state-owned houses, in some cities, the social housing stock was replenished through the Socially-Supported Housing Construction Programme. Most of cities do not have ethnically disaggregated data on the beneficiaries. However, some of them do, and for example, Zagreb has reported providing some 30 newly constructed apartments to vulnerable Roma families over the past few years. Zagreb being the capital city can afford a far larger scale of programmes. Indeed, a key problem is that a large number of local self-governments are relatively undeveloped, and unable to provide sufficient funds to improve the housing situation of Roma. On the other hand, cities are able to provide apartments, again not as a part of a special local Roma strategy, but within their mainstream welfare programmes[41]. Many other mid-size or small towns have also provided apartments, but have no data on ethnic affiliation of beneficiaries.


A lower level of assistance provided by local authorities, even in the least developed municipalities, consists of subsidies for rent, water, electricity, gas, and essential repairs of private houses or apartments. Their budgets are receiving support from the central state fund for equalization. Most of these activities are carried out in close cooperation with local welfare centres, and local Roma councils or NGOs.


As described above, the areas settled by Roma in Croatia are, as a rule, characterized by illegal construction, most frequently outside the built up area of a settlement, on land belonging to someone else (the state, municipality, or privately owned) and therefore with unsatisfactory communal infrastructure and with no social or economic facilities. Again, most of relevant policies are mainstreamed, and decentralised. Support from the central level is provided through several measures, most of them conducted in the framework of the National Roma Programme and the Decade Action Plan.


Other activities, such as those by LSGs and County Public Health Institutes regarding provision of drinking water, food, immunization, sanitation, disinfection/disinfection, are numerous but poorly reported.


Contribution by EU and other donors


Probably the biggest impact is provided through EU pre-accession funds, with a significant contribution of the Government for meeting pre-conditions of specific projects. The first larger infrastructural project was envisaged as a pilot project of construction of infrastructure in the Roma settlement of Parag in Međimurje County. The EU contribution was 75 % (468,597.13 EUR), while the Government of Croatia has contributed 25 % (156,199.47 EUR). All the works within the infrastructure component have been delivered in 2008. The Government of Croatia has provided additional 5 million HRK (approximately €690,000) for the legalisation (amount larger than the value of works themselves).


The Government Office for National Minorities has continued with the implementation of infrastructure projects with PHARE 2006 Roma support project phase II. This project has two components: works on infrastructure in three Roma settlements in Međimurje County (Lončarevo, Piškorovec and Pribislavec) and services, i.e. supervision of works. EU is contributing with the full cost of supervision of works (€ 194,920.00), and 70 % of value of works (€ 2,279,736.04), while the Government of Croatia is providing 30 % (€ 975,079.96). In addition, the Government of Croatia has contributed with approximately € 400,000 from the state budget to the legalisation of houses in these settlements. The works started in February 2009, and finished in November 2010. Currently, infrastructure improvements (electricity, water and sewage, roads) are conducted in the last two large Roma settlements in Međimurje County, Orehovica and Sitnice, to the total value of 2 million Euros. In addition to the contribution to the cost of the project (€ 733,230), the Croatian Government has provided 1,300,000 HRK (approximately € 180,000) for the legalisation of houses in Orehovica and Sitnice.


There are other examples of positive actions: wherever the legalisation is not possible, efforts are under way to find alternative solution through cooperation of central authorities, LSGs and Roma. An example is a village of Donja Dubrava, where 17 families were provided with houses in integrated environment of neighbouring villages, since their original location was in area particularly prone to floods.


As a rule, in illegal settlements which can be legalised, the state is donating the land to LSGs, while LSGs are transferring the ownership to Roma. In addition, in 2010, the Government has relieved Roma beneficiaries from paying a fine on illegal construction during the process of legalisation. On local level, municipalities and local providers of communal services are enabling local Roma populations to pay connections to the infrastructure through 1 to 3-year interest-free payments in instalments.


The Croatian Government is also planning an IPA 2012 project, - co-financed 75% by the EU and 25% by the state budget, for developing local Roma housing projects.


In addition, within the EIB II Programme – Integral Development of Local Communities, the Ministry of Regional Development is financing reconstruction of infrastructure in Roma settlements. An example is Darda (Osijek-Baranja County, about 610,000 Euros), while a consortium of Dutch NGOs has donated 100,000 EUR for reconstruction of the community hall in the same settlement. Other sources of funding are also used: the City of Osijek in cooperation with the World Bank (74,000 EUR) has reconstructed a Roma settlement in the Tenja suburb.


Cross-border cooperation can also play a role in improving the housing situation of Roma: during 2011 municipalities of Orehovica (Croatia) and Črešnovci (Slovenia) have established a cross-border Roma cultural transversal project “DROM” The project value is about 160,000 Euros, and one component of the project is construction of communal facilities in Roma settlements.


Roma participation and monitoring


Roma participated in the development of projects for infrastructure reconstruction in Roma settlements funded by EU: the preparation of detailed plans for improvement was conducted with full involvement of the Roma community in the planning and decision making process. Members of the Roma community are also involved in the local monitoring and coordination of activities as well as contributing to the execution of the works. Several members of the Roma community were hired by the contractor. In cooperation with Croatian Employment Services, Roma community is involved in the improvement of infrastructure by participating in constructions and in works related to the improvement of the environment.’


The National Commission for Monitoring of the Implementation of the National Roma Programme (NCMINRP), and the Working Group for the Monitoring of the Implementation of the Action Plan for the Decade of the Roma Inclusion (WGIMAP) regularly discuss legalisation of settlements and other housing problems, since both platforms consists of Roma representatives as well as representatives of relevant line ministries and institutions (e.g. education, welfare, space planning, employment) The following list is meant to be illustrative, quoting just the some of the relevant items from these sessions:

In October 2009 the Government Office for National Minorities provided funds covering the cost of waste disposal from Parag. At the 7th session of the WGIMAP (November 2009), conclusions regarding future projects for Roma national minority were agreed upon (including those on need to have integrative approach, i.e. not to work only on infrastructure but to have more comprehensive interventions including education, welfare, employment). They are based on experience gained in implementation of EU-funded and other projects, and in accordance with the Good practice guide for the social inclusion of Roma in Europe. These conclusions were also accepted by the NCMINRP in December 2009. NCMINRP also agreed to organise seminars for Roma citizens in all settlements covered by the projects in order to increase the sense of ownership among local communities. The Government Office for National Minorities also funded several subjects trough the NCMINRP (e.g. costs for the reconstruction of kindergarten in Lončarevo, or covering part of the costs for construction of a Multicultural Centre in Pribislavec).


  1. Spain


The Aid Programme for the eradication of shanty towns is intended to serve the settlements with marginal population or at risk of social exclusion, with serious health problems, overcrowding of its inhabitants, as well as with safety and living conditions far below the minimum acceptable requirements.


The purpose of this Aid Programme is to assist in the slum eradication through direct aids to the promoters of the programme, which must be legal entities, public, or private, non-profit bodies. Relocation assistance for leased from each household is offered in the aid programme.


The maximum aid amount is 50% of annual income with a maximum of 3,000 € per year per household. The duration of this support is a maximum of 4 years, conditional on the persistence of the circumstances that led to the initial recognition of the right to help.


It also subsidises the cost of management teams and social support, with a maximum of 10% of the total amount of subsidies given to rehousing.


There are two different strategies for housing rehabilitation:


a) Rehabilitation and urban renovation areas aimed at rehabilitating a whole area or a whole neighborhood. Beyond housing policy it aims at social cohesion. Special attention paid to historical city centers and rural areas.


The objective of Rehabilitation Areas (ARI) is to improve urban and rural areas, recovering historical areas, urban city centers, dilapidated areas and rural areas, both rehabilitating buildings and houses and improving public spaces.


The area must include at least 200 houses (exceptions are permitted). Houses and buildings must be at least 10 years old. Co-operation between different levels of Administration must be ensured.


Interventions than can be subsidized


Subsidies for the rehabilitation of houses and buildings can be up to 40% of the budget, with a maximum of 5,000 Euros for each house. In historic centers and rural areas the subsidy can reach 50% of the budget with a maximum of 6,600 Euros per house. Only families with incomes under  € 48.000 can benefit from the subsidies.


Subsidies for public spaces and urbanisation can be up to 20% of the budget, with the limit of 20% of the subsidy dedicated to rehabilitation.


Subsidies for information teams can be up to 50% of the costs, with a maximum of 5% of the budged dedicated to rehabilitation. In the case of competitive loans: the loan can cover the total budget. The amortization period can be fixed up to 15 years. The interest rate is lower than the average of the market and they are commission-free.


b) PlanRenove” is for individual rehabilitation in houses and buildings, one by one. It has three objectives: accessibility, efficiency in power consumption and improvement of the structural security of the buildings. The Plan Renove is either for buildings or for dwellings.


Subsidies for buildings are provided to the owners association up to 10% of the budget, with a maximum of 1,100 Euros per house or to the owner of the house up to 15% of the budget, with a maximum of € 1,600 or € 2,700 if they are above 65 or disabled and the works are aimed at adapting the building to their specific needs. To receive this subsidy, the family income must be under € 48.000.

Another possibility is a protected loan, with an interest rate lower than the market average and with no commissions. The loan can be subsidized with up to €140 per year for each €10,000 of loan.


Interventions than can be subsidized are:


Subsidies for dwellings are provided up to 25% of the budget, with a maximum of  € 2,500, or up to  € 3,400 if the residents are over 65 or disabled, and the works are aimed at adapting the house to their special needs, or up to  € 6,500 if the owner dedicates the house for rental during a minimum of 5 years.


Interventions than can be subsidized include:


The Ministry of Public Works has published “Aids to access a dwelling in Spain[42]. The publication provides information about the basic parameters, calculations, and technical criteria of the housing plans, and its application to the Housing and rehabilitation State Plan 2009-2012. It also provides useful information for citizens, professionals, public and private promoters, and officials of different  administrations, to establish a stable technical bases to housing policy, which will support the management aimed to facilitate the access to housing. It also aims at deepening the knowledge of management and the means of housing policy, which are of great importance in the housing market. Finally, it explains the tools and basic concepts of the Aid Programmes and protected dwellings.


In order to monitor and review the National strategy for social inclusion of Roma in Spain 2012-2020, surveys will be conducted to measure compliance with the objectives set out in section II of the Strategy. Surveys will be from a longitudinal perspective and consistent with those that have served basis to make the objectives of this strategy (e.g. Map of Roma Housing in Spain), thus allowing the realization of comparisons between the situation of the Roma population and the whole Spanish population. These surveys will be conducted in two cycles: one prior to 2015 will provide information on the degree of compliance with intermediate targets, and another, in 2020, will yield information on final results. With the information provided by these surveys, two monitoring reports will be prepared to assess compliance with goals, one intermediate report after 2015 and another at the end of the strategy in 2020.



Lessons learnt by the experts composing this thematic group and the good practices identified, were summarized during the debriefing meeting held on 5 April 2012. They are as follows:


In the field of policies:




As regards the attitudes of authorities at national and/or local and regional levels:






In the field of project implementation and selection of beneficiaries:



In the field of support measures:




In the field of funding:



In the field of Roma participation:



In the field of data collection:



In the field of transnational co-operation and involvement of international partners in projects:




Additionally, the team of experts has proposed that:




Appendix 1:



Formal invitation letter from the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Spiro Ristovski






Appendix 2:


Programme of the thematic visit to Skopje, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, 3-5 April 2012





Appendix 3:


List of participants of the team of experts taking part in thematic visit to Skopje, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, 3-5 April 2012



[1] The term “Roma” used at the Council of Europe refers to Roma, Sinti, Kale and related groups in Europe, including Travellers and the Eastern groups (Dom and Lom), and covers the wide diversity of the groups concerned, including persons who identify themselves as “Gypsies”.


[3] The Spanish Programme for the Development of the Gypsy People was adopted in 1985.

[4] Due to strike of air-controllers in France, the Spanish expert could not fly to Skopje. The Secretariat presented a summary of his Power Presentation.







[11] The above recommendations, resolutions and declarations are electronically accessible at

[12] See in the Addendum the Information note “The CEB’s contribution to Roma issues”.

[13] See in particular Yordanova and Others v. Bulgaria.

[14] See the European Social Charter Roma thematic factsheet (updated May 2012) at and the Collective Complaints Procedure summaries of decisions on the merits concerning Roma by the European Committee of Social Rights at



[17] Full text of the OSCE Action Plan on Roma and Sinti at:



[20] See the Addendum for the share of Roma population per municipality based on the figures of the 2002 census data provided by the State Statistical Office (pages 34-35).

[21] See Powerpoint presentation of Hilswerk International Austria, page 7.

[22] Figures taken from “How do Croatian Roma live”, p. 279; Editor: Maja Štambuk; Biblioteka Zbornici - Book 30. - Institut društvenih znanosti Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, 2005; available from:

[23] Article 2 of the Spanish Constitution states “The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible country of all Spaniards”.

[24] Fundación Secretariado Gitano-FSG (2008): “Mapa sobre vivienda y comunidad gitana en España, 2007”, Madrid, Ministerio de Vivienda; Fundación Secretariado Gitano.

[25] Grupo Pass (1991): “Mapa de la Vivienda Gitana en España”. Madrid, Asociación Secretariado General Gitano.

[26] Such cases were reported in Čazma, Daruvar, Valpovo, Brinje, Ogulin, and Saborsko.

[27] See the Addendum for more details about the Action Plan. See also Sub-Chapter 3.4.1 for the results of those measures.

[28] Decade Action Plan available at:

[29] See “The Right to Housing and Property Restitution in Bosnia and Herzegovina: a case study” by Paul Prettitore (2003).

[30] See the Addendum for further details of relevant chapters of these documents.

[31] See Official Gazette 33/12.

[32] Source: Programme 1 - Administration, Sub-programme 11 - Supporting the implementation of the Decade and Strategy for Roma, paragraph 488 - Capital grants to municipalities, subparagraph - 488190-11 other Capital grants.

[33] Source: Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No.161/2010.

[34] Horizonti received the 2011 European Best Practices Award, which is offered jointly by Italy’s Foundation Giordano Dell’Amore and the France-based European Microfinance Network (EMN), for its programme “Housing Microfinance for Roma and marginalized people”.

[35] See CEB activities in favour of Roma at

[36] Habitat For Humanity Macedonia and Horizonti, which provides microenterprise loans to Roma, developed loan products to help Roma improve their housing. Habitat Macedonia created educational materials to support self-building. Averaging US$2,200, the loans have been used for roof reconstruction, adding toilets and running water, room additions, heating systems, insulation and replacing doors and windows. Of the first 50 loans disbursed in Shuto Orizari through mid-2008, 20 per cent were used for installing toilets and upgrading water systems. Source: Habitat for Humanity Housing Microfinance. PDF/DEV/11-08.

[37] See the Addendum for the Hilfswerk full Power-point presentation, including pictures of houses/flats. Hilfswerk is one of the largest suppliers of social services in Austria. Hilfswerk employs a total more than 8,400 people. Its main fields are the care of elderly people, ill persons and children and young people.

In 1989, the Austrian Relief Organisation (Österreichisches Hilfswerk, ÖHW) starts the first “Christmas Aid for childrenin Poland” (Weihnachtshilfe) after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Between 1989 and 1996, further projects are started in South-Eastern Europe (including Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as in Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In 1996, Hilfswerk Austria International (HWA) is created as an affiliated association of ÖHW. 2011 marked the fifteenth anniversary of HWA.


[38] The Decade Watch Report can be downloaded at:

[39] How Do Croatian Roma Live; Editor: Maja Štambuk; Biblioteka Zbornici - Book 30. - Institut društvenih znanosti Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, 2005; available at:

[40] See Housing Section para. 1.3.3.

[41] Such cases were reported in Čazma, Daruvar, Valpovo, Brinje, Ogulin, and Saborsko.

[42] The publication can be viewed or free downloaded from the website of the Ministry of Public Works:


[43] One of the first activities of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion will be organised on social housing issues in Madrid on 17 December 2012. The IRIS project on housing policies and social support to Romani families in situations of social and residential exclusion will be presented to other European cities. A description of the IRIS project is available on the Council of Europe database of Roma-related policies and good practices (

[44] The team of experts underlined that municipalities are not obliged to contribute financially. They can also e.g. offer land, help with construction material, facilitate access to ID/property documents or undertake projects for Roma within their mainstream welfare programmes.

[45]From another CAHROM thematic visit, it appears that Slovenia is another good example on how to match national and EU funds for Roma projects, whilst involving Roma NGOs in the process.

[46] A delegation from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” composed of Mrs Mabera Kamberi, Head of the Sector for Co-Ordination and Technical Assistance, Mrs Sofija Spasovska, Deputy Head of the Department and Mrs Marija Popovska, Adviser, visited Hilfswerk Office in Vienna on 27 June 2012.