CAHROM (2014)4 Add
Strasbourg, 6 August 2014
AD HOC COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS ON ROMA ISSUES (CAHROM)
ADDENDUM TO THE THEMATIC REPORT ON (RE-)HOUSING SOLUTIONS FOR ROMA
AND ALTERNATIVE MEASURES TO (FORCED) EVICTIONS
(further to the CAHROM thematic visit to Belgrade, Serbia, from 18 to 20 November 2013)
I. EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND REFERENCE TEXTS page 2
1.1 Council of Europe page 2
1.2 Other relevant European and international standards, reference texts
and documents page 2
II. NATIONAL INFORMATION AND RELEVANT DOCUMENTS page 5
2.1 Serbia page 5
2.2 Slovak Republic page 5
2.3 Spain page 5
III. INFORMATION CONCERNING THE ROMA HOUSING POLICY IN GREECE page 6
3.1 Size, composition and housing situation of Roma in Greece page 6
3.2 Housing policy for Roma in Greece page 6
3.3 ECRI recommendations to Greece page 9
I. EUROPEAN AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND REFERENCE TEXTS
1.1 Council of Europe standards, reference texts and documents include the following:
1.2. Other relevant European and international standards, reference texts and documents
United Nations, including UNDP
Decade of Roma Inclusion
European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC)
- Amnesty International Report “Home is more than a roof over your head - Roma denied adequate housing in Serbia”;
- Amnesty International report: “After Bevil: Serbia needs new laws against forced evictions”
- Amnesty International Guide to preventing forced evictions “Know your obligations”.
II. NATIONAL INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTS PROVIDED BY EXPERTS OR OTHER SOURCES
2.2 Slovak Republic
3 Presentations (one in English and the other in Spanish) by the Spanish expert and the Secretariat during the thematic visit
III. INFORMATION CONCERNING THE ROMA HOUSING POLICY IN GREECE
3.1 Size, composition and housing situation of Roma in Greece
According to the estimations of the Council of Europe, the number of Roma in Greece is around 175,000 and made 1.55 % of the total number of inhabitants. There is not official data available.
They number 200,000 according to the Greek government. According to the National Commission for Human Rights that number is closer to 250,000 and according to the Greek Helsinki Watch group to 300,000.
According to the Integrated Action Plan for the Social Integration of Greek Gypsies, Gypsies in Greece consists an integral part of the Greek population; they have unequivocally expressed the wish to be considered and treated as Greek citizens, and not only as persons of Gypsy origin. They are Greek citizens and they fall within the Constitution and the laws of the Greek State. They are not registered separately from other Greek citizens, either during the national census, or in the municipal rolls.
As a result of this, there is not a precise official number of the Gypsy population as such. In that sense too, any reference to a precise number resulted by several studies held by the local authorities or other bodies in terms of drafting and implementing projects of social integration, is not based on either credible procedures and criteria, since any such figures are mainly based on Gypsies self-identification. They enjoy by constitutional law all civic and political rights entitled to Greek citizens (electoral – voting rights, freedom of association, syndicalism, expression, etc.). Thus, (Greek) Gypsies in Greece participate at and constitute political parties, they vote and get elected too, they organize themselves in collective bodies and they participate at public life and local government structures. Furthermore, with respect to their community particular life style and needs, Greek Gypsies have been recognised by the State as a socially vulnerable group of the Greek population towards to which the State has adopted and implements policies and measures of positive discrimination.
Social integration policies target all Greek Gypsies, irrespectively of their religion and they form measures of positive action on all spheres of social life such as health; housing; employment; education; culture and sports.
3.2 Housing policy for Roma in Greece
The Integrated Action Plan for the Social Integration of Greek Gypsies has as a priority segment the “construction of housing infrastructures”.
The Ministry of Interior focuses onto the rehabilitation issue of Gypsies given that the development of their living conditions is fundamental to their strengthening as well as to the combating of social exclusion. The aim is the achievement of permanent housing rehabilitation for all Greek Gypsies, as possible, and the development of living conditions in existing settlements. In further details we highlight the following:
Α) Housing loans programme for Greek Gypsies
Granting of 9.000 mortgage loans of 60.000€ each, to Greek Gypsies living in shacks, tents or any other construction that do not meet minimum requirements on permanent habitation. As explicitly provided in the relevant law (L.2946/2001, art.19, JMD 33165/23-06-06, OG 780/B/2006), the funding of the programme, held exclusively upon national budget, is guaranteed by the State Budget. Regarding the payment of the loans, these are granted upon favourable terms: beneficiaries are subsidized by the State on 80% of the loan’s interest, and may conclude with the payment in a period of 22 years, whereas, 100% of the loan and of its interests is guaranteed too by the State Budget (for the banks participating at the programme).
The loans are strictly provided for main residence purposes, whether this involves purchasing; building; completing of building or even engagement in organized town building held by the local authorities. This last option of engaging in projects of integrated settlements constructed by the competent local authorities request beneficiaries’ definite consent, assignment of state property (municipal or public) and application of minimum technical standards (i.e. legal obligation for the construction of houses of at least 85m2 net space each).
Ever since its launch in 2002 (L.2946/2001, art.19, JMD 18830/02-05-02 OG 609/B/2002), the programme has been thoroughly reviewed and amended in order to adjust to transforming conditions and needs. Along with all necessary legal amendments towards the strengthening of the efforts made and the acceleration of the results in progress, effective implementation engages constant cooperation among all parties in charge - the Ministry, the local authorities and the Banks involved in. A recent amendment of the legal framework in force was completed in June 2006 (JMD no.33165/2006), in conformity with the Concluding Observations of the Committee on ESC Rights of the ICESCR, it’s General Comment no.7 and other binding international documents such as the Concluding Observations of the Committee on CP Rights of the ICCPR, the CM REC 2005(4) of the Council of Europe on improving housing conditions for Roma and Travellers in Europe and others, in order to:
Additionally, towards the effective implementation of the programme, a new database has been developed since 2005, for the management of the applications submitted and of any other existing information-data regarding the assessment and the qualification of successful applicants.
Following the update of the applications data, based on the modified assessment procedure and the allocation of the necessary funds for the granting of a total of 9.000 loans, the Ministry of Interior has allocated 8.785 housing loans to an equal number of families all over Greece. Up to date , 7.429 families have been successfully nominated , whereas (out of 7.429) a total of 5.904 beneficiaries have already disbursed their loans (79,5% increasing) from the banks engaged in the programme.
With regard to promoting equal gender participation and mainly promoting women’s strengthening and participation in social life (e.g. application of one parent family criteria) the following data have been revealed from the completion of the application procedure in 2005: Among 15.665 applicants, a total of 6.117 were women, whereas among 5.747 successful applicants 2.114 were women.
Similar data on gender participation will be further available upon completion of the modified application procedure, in force since mid-2006. Further on, another statistical analysis of the documentation submitted proves that the housing loans programme offered as a strong motivation for registering and gaining identification documents. In that view it has managed in an indirect way the effective settlement of the civic status of the Gypsy population as well as conscious building, from a social point of view, regarding the existence of the necessary services and the necessity of making use of them.
It is also worth mentioned that the programme provides for beneficiaries’ free settlement will in accordance with their own family bonds, their personal and professional needs etc. Overall, the housing loans programme is deemed to serve as a good practice, still a close monitoring of the implementation process reveals that it has been rather innovative and ambitious in the sense that it provides for a rapid transition to different and still demanding housing conditions. Likely, the ultimate financing from state resources, in the sense of positive discrimination measures, may offer for the establishment of dependence feelings contrary to the scope of social oriented programmes and benefits. In light of these, it is necessary that all stakeholders and notably the Gypsy representatives and associations serve as an important mediator with concrete and uniform perceptions, between the State and the Gypsy community.
Β) Construction of integrated settlements
The provision lies within the law on State assignment of public, municipal or communal property to Greek Gypsies who are engaged in State housing programmes. Any project undertaken under this segment is of permanent nature and presupposes the consent of the habitants. In particular, it is pursued through:
i. Qualification of local town-plans on the grounds of emergency housing rehabilitation programmes for vulnerable groups of the society (L.3448/2006 and L.2790/2000, art.6§2). The law was amended in 2006 in order to include the Gypsy population too. In order to accelerate urban plans in force as well as to lift any implementation fragments, qualification of urban town plans has been explicitly provided by law since 2006.
ii. Free assignment by the local authorities of municipal and communal property to their citizens of Gypsy origin. The procedure established (MD no.21261/2004, OG 1851/Β/14-12-2004) has adopted social assessment criteria (single parent families, families of many members etc. as above) respecting the Gypsy lifestyle and living conditions, in accordance with the obligations arising for Greece from the International Conventions in force. Following the modified Municipal and Communal Code (Law 3463/2006, art.75,I.e.3), the measure has been further introduced in local authorities primary responsibilities. For instance, Municipality of Aegiros made over 45 estates for the housing rehabilitation of an equal number of Gypsy families.
iii. Application of minimum technical requirements for the construction of houses by the local authorities establishing further the requirement of a minimum of 85 sq. m. (net space) for each house (JMD no.28807/2004).
iv. Purchase of plots of land by local government organizations (upon the Ministry’s budget-PPI) for the relocation of existing settlements or the development of living conditions in areas of mass population concentration. Since 2002, the Ministry of Interior has approved the purchase of tracts of land for 18 Municipalities of a total amount of 5,76 million euro (Didimoticho, Serres, Sykeon, Volos, N. Ionia, Parelion, Aitoliko, I.P.Mesologgiou, Dymi, Movri, Amaliada, Gastouni, Korinthos, N. Kios, Meligalas, Tripoli, Trikala, Larisa). The procedure has been already finalized for some municipalities.
v. Construction of development infrastructures and amenities in new settlements (water supply; sewerage; electricity-lighting; road construction, playgrounds etc.).
vi. Construction of permanent settlements: In order to deal with Gypsies’ housing conditions, especially in areas with mass population concentration, the programme has funded the construction of permanent housing. Settlements have been established at several municipalities of Greece such as Didimoticho (54 houses), Sofades (84 houses), Serres (25 houses) and Menemeni (24 houses). More works are in progress in other municipalities too, whereas more housing has been constructed along with housing loans, at the municipalities of Trikkaion and Metaxades (27 houses whereas 15 more are expected to be constructed).
C) Housing rehabilitation projects of temporary nature for the improvement of living conditions in existing settlements, till the achievement of a viable, permanent housing solution. In this context, eligible interventions focus on the urgent address of poor living conditions, mainly in areas of mass Gypsy concentration. In further detail, eligible interventions are as follows:
In Greece, all projects are financed exclusively by national resources. An important precondition is the submission to the Ministry of Interior of comprehensive, technically mature and viable proposals by the competent local authorities, which are assessed for qualification by a Special Committee established to this end with the participation of representatives of central government, local government and the Gypsies (representatives from Collective Bodies and Gypsy experts). In that view, it is important to note that according to the law in force (L.3463/2006, art.75,Ie3,5) any proposal or project aiming at the housing rehabilitation of citizens in need falls within the primary responsibility of the competent Local Government Organisations.
Following the proposals submitted by local government organizations, the Ministry of Interior has allocated since 2002 from the national budget, the amount of 80.54 million Euros to 92 municipalities on infrastructure works held by the local authorities, whereas payments amount at the time to 42,20 million euro according to the works proceeded already .
3.3 ECRI recommendations to Greece
- The housing loan scheme established by the Greek authorities for Roma continues to be implemented and the authorities have informed ECRI that out of the 7,331 families which have been granted these loans, 5,896 have received them. The authorities informed ECRI that the housing loan scheme has been constantly evaluated and improved with adjustments since its launch in 2002. ECRI recommends that the authorities act more vigorously to address the situation of Roma who live in settlements of inadequate standards by, among others, imparting on local authorities their obligations under international and national law, including the Municipal and Communal Law as amended, as concerns housing rights, including the right to non- discrimination. ECRI further recommends cooperation between national and local authorities to set up a coherent strategy to improve the situation concerning these settlements.
- As concerns the housing loan scheme created within the framework of the Integrated Action Plan for Roma, it appears that the intended beneficiaries have not always benefited from it. ECRI is further not aware of whether statistical data is collected on the situation of Roma for the purpose of evaluating the results of the Integrated Action Plan. The full participation of Roma at all the stages of the implementation of the Integrated Action Plan is equally important to its success.
- ECRI strongly recommends the creation of more systematic and long-term mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Integrated Action Plan in order to assess results and make any necessary adjustments.
- ECRI recommends that Roma representatives be involved in this process.
 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.
 See in particular decisions concerning collective complaints against Bulgaria, France, Greece and Italy addressing the housing situation of Roma and/or Travellers.
 As for Greece, see below Chapter III.
 The term “Gypsies” is used in the present text only in reference to the Greek context as this term is used officially in Greece.
 Information under chapter 3.2 are extracts of a report presented in 2008 by the Greek member in the MG-S-ROM.