N1 Housing

0

N1 Housing

Financing
Urban Design
Promotion and production
Ownership and tenure

Main objectives of the project

N1 Housing is a small residential building in Kragujevac (Serbia) that enabled to detach from the surroundings and provide the full comfort of living space. The intention was to initiate debate and change in the aesthetics and program through confrontation with the context and local culture that has its own stereotypical expectations of architecture.

Date

  • Construcción: 2017

Stakeholders

  • Arquitecto: Marija Simović
  • Arquitecto: Petar Simović

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Badajoz
Country/Region: Republic of Serbia

Description

Building is situated in the city core itself, on a narrow plot which is common for this chaotic urban environment inherited from the past. Urban context made of old single-family buildings that are constantly being replaced by commercial multi-family buildings, can only be negated. Shaped as row housing, N1 Housing is communicating with the urban context with street elevation which is perceived as 2D structure that is hiding two-bedroom apartments and two duplexes-penthouses with exits to the green roof terraces on the third floor.
The problems that occurred during design period and the period of realization are mainly on two levels: physical characteristics of the site and restrictive legislation. N1 Housing was initially designed with an open ground floor for greenery and parking space. As the bureaucratic limitations got in the way, the property was ‘sunk’, maintaining all the imagined morphological characteristics on the plot with a street front length of approximately 7 meters. That resulted that the entrance of the building and the parking space moved to a formally basement floor. The greenery was compensated with a backyard garden, that one of the ground floor apartments has an exit to, as well as with two rooftop gardens intended for two duplexes. Although there are no windows on the sides, the building has large openings on the street and backyard facades that provided the necessary lighting and ventilation to the living space. Discrete contextualism among interwar single-family buildings (from 1920-1930) is not eye-catching at first sight and is reflected in the neat fenestration and restored entrance door of a single-family house that used to be previously located on the plot.
The special attention was given to the construction which is a combination of reinforced concrete and masonry with a span from 7-7,5m due to the trapezoidal base of the plot. This provided to the future users with an opportunity to organize their units as they wish, having complete freedom with no constructional limitations in terms of columns or load-bearing walls within the apartments. This construction enabled to have free space for parking in the basement and a very specific cubic form from the street. To protect the street façade from further deformations by its users which is very common practice, the treatment was such that it has no terraces and the ventilated façade, HPL material of which became the material used for solving the apartment shading as well, resulted in a precise and ‘non-contextual’ street façade. The backyard façade, on the other hand, is shaped in unobtrusive way compared to the chaotic interior of the urban block, and its shape does not suggest a multi-family residence. As for the greenery, the yard and roofs are left to the owners of the apartments for direct care and maintenance as they became the integral part of their living space.

Social Housing in Supportive Environments (SHSE)

0

Social Housing in Supportive Environments (SHSE)

Mismatches Functional adequacy Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Local policies
Urban Design Urban fabrics Inclusion
Promotion and production Transformation and adaptation

Main objectives of the project

Date

  • 2014

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: World Habitat

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Belgrade
Country/Region: Belgrade, Republic of Serbia

Description

As a result of the 1990s wars, Serbia has the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe. The original government policy was to house the most vulnerable displaced people in collective centres. These provided shelter but conditions were frequently appalling with inadequate sanitation, water supply and little privacy. The centres were also in the process of closure. SHSE has played a significant role in providing new permanent housing for people enabling the collective centres to be closed. It offers quality housing, individually tailored support services from local social care institutions and connects people to a local “host family” who provide additional support to help people re-integrate into society. The project has been extended to other vulnerable groups including homeless people, vulnerable people and Roma.

 

Project Description

What are its aims and objectives?

The SHSE programme has been in place since 2003. The aim of the project is to improve the housing conditions and social inclusion of the most vulnerable groups in Serbia. The programme was initiated to provide permanent decent housing so that the most vulnerable forced migrants could be rehoused from Government collective centres built as emergency shelters to house people who had been displaced during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Government policy was to close the shelters but because of the lack of institutional mechanisms and insufficient capacity of social housing, they remained open long after planned closure dates. The centres provided extremely poor quality housing, with poor sanitation, overcrowding and insanitary water supply and, most important, produced further social exclusion of their residents. Whilst some still remain open today, the work of SHSE helped house many people and hastened the closure of many collective centres.

The project has built 1,014 homes so far, housing 2,643 of the most vulnerable and socially excluded people. It also provides individually tailored support to enable people to integrate back into society and lead independent lives. The individual needs of the tenants include finding work, acquiring health care and social care services, psychological support and relationship building within the local community. These are provided through the host families system and social work centres, which jointly provide a supportive environment.

Host families are families who face housing exclusion but have sufficient social capital and personal skills to enable them to act as good neighbours, helping new families find their feet and gradually become self-reliant. Host families live in an apartment in the same way as the other families requiring support.

Social work centres manage the buildings, educate, monitor and support the host families and also provide direct, professional services to beneficiaries.

Housing Center is an organisation which has, together with other partners, developed and implemented the project. It organises training workshops for beneficiaries of the project and organisations and institutions at local and national levels, carries out research on housing for vulnerable groups and works with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and Commissariat for Refugees to develop guidance on social housing in supportive environments in other regions.

Housing Center shares its learning externally and currently it is a member of FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless).

What context does it operate in?

Serbia has a population of more than 10 million and has the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people in Europe. The situation is a legacy of the wars of the 1990s. Twenty years after the wars ended, the country still hosts 45,000 people with refugee status and has 205,000 internally displaced people.

Refugees and internally displaced people are the poorest and among most deprived in Serbia. Their unemployment rate is 33 per cent, far higher than the general population. Incomes are low; 29 per cent have incomes below 48 Euros a month. Sixty-one per cent do not have a permanent home. Many of them are accommodated in the collective centres or inadequate private accommodation.

Serbia has one of the largest Roma communities in Europe, with a population estimated to be around 500,000. Roma people are among the most vulnerable communities in Europe, with a long history of persecution and discrimination. The Roma communities are amongst the most deprived and socially excluded groups in Serbia. Although Serbia adopted a law on Social Housing in 2009, it does not have a functioning social housing system. Very few of the requirements of the Social Housing Law have been implemented. The private housing market has not been able to serve the most vulnerable people, due to high rental prices and rising demand. Estimates indicate that there is a shortfall of 100,000 homes in Serbia; this increases both the demand and the market price for homes that are available. Housing is not seen as a political objective and it has neither a system of affordable or social housing nor a housing policy in place.

What are its key features?

The SHSE project provides sustainable housing solution to the most vulnerable people. It helps them develop the skills and competences required for a self-reliant and independent life.

The role of the SHSE service is not only providing housing but helping residents become more included in society.  The project has two main components: The construction and provision of social housing units and creating a supportive environment, which further facilitates social inclusion.The social housing built by the project is specifically designed to help encourage integration and communication between residents. The buildings have a mixture of different sized apartments allowing a diverse mix of households. Special attention is given to common areas – common living rooms, laundries and outdoor spaces. The project recognises that these are the areas where social contact and communication between residents take place.  Setting up of the supportive environment component includes:

  • Selection and training of the host families, who help families adjust to a normal life and provide assistance for networking and building relationships with others.
  • Training of the social work centres, which continue to support and monitor the progress of the tenants after the project is over.

How is it funded?

The first SHSE projects were financed by Swiss Development and Cooperation. Since 2003, 20 million Euros have been invested in the capital costs of building. Ninety per cent of this has been provided by international donors, including UNHCR, the European Union and the German government. The other 10 per cent was raised locally through local government and local donors. Projects were also included in the National Investment Plan of the Government in 2009.

Land and infrastructure connections are provided by local government as their contribution to the project. Local government also takes responsibility for building maintenance and providing support services for residents through local social care centres, which it funds. In return, the ownership of the buildings is transferred to the local authority.

What impact has it had?

The project has successfully helped provide good quality housing and support in social inclusion to over 2,500 people. Evaluation work carried out shows that resident satisfaction levels are extremely high.

The project has enabled numerous collective centres to close. Over 2,000 of SHSE’s residents were rehoused from collective centres.

The project has influenced national policy. It was influential in the current national housing strategy, which recommends the SHSE approach be used for internally displaced people.The project was also used by the government as a model in developing a strategy for decentralising social welfare service.

 

Why is it innovative?

  • The key innovation of the project is to combine housing provision with social welfare support through Centres of Social work. Helping groups to leave the collective centres and start an independent life integrated with other parts of society.
  • Introduction of the Host Family to provide peer support. This support is available close to where people live and the hosts have the same ethnic background, language and family situation.

 

What is the environmental impact?

The SHSE buildings are thermally insulated and energy efficient. New regulations on energy efficiency in Serbia promote the thermal performance of housing. Compared to the collective centres and also to the housing generally in Serbia, the new buildings are far more efficient. Most of the new buildings have more efficient energy and water usage. There is a positive environmental impact, as the old collective centre buildings were badly insulated, used old schools, gymnasiums, agriculture warehouses and factory buildings. The buildings were neither designed nor insulated for human use. The closure of these centres has had a positive impact on the environment and the people living in them.

 

Is it financially sustainable?

The project relies significantly on international donors to provide the capital costs of buildings.

This model will be used in the immediate future.

There is a strong interest amongst donors to assist with finalising the refugee housing situation in Southern Europe through the Regional Housing Programme and so the prospects for future funding are good. In the future the project hopes that the financial stability of the country will settle to the extent that it will be possible to borrow capital from lenders, with additional funding provided through local government.

 

What is the social impact?

The project facilitates a system of mutual support and leads to greater community cooperation. The beneficiaries, host families and local community take responsibility for arranging a number of support measures together. Transferrable skills also identified from within the community are shared. In the many municipalities psycho-sociological support, learning assistance, computer training or employment assistance are provided in common living rooms provided within the buildings. The project enables people facing housing and social exclusion to acquire various forms of support (obtain citizenship, access health and social care services, increase their employability) facilitating their social integration. The approach adopted by the project contributes to improved health and safety, since special attention is given to architectural design, materials used in construction and construction standards.

 

Barriers

  • Political instability, frequent shifts in power and conflict between political parties and struggle over land allocation has been a major challenge, which has affected the level of government support the project has received.
  • After the collapse of the socialist political system and mass privatisation of social housing, the market was expected to provide housing to the most vulnerable. This has not happened and the policies and strategies have been delayed. This gap has led to the adoption of illegal self-help strategies.
  • Many project beneficiaries have been living in government and donor-supported collective centres for many years, in some case 15 years.
  • While Centres for Social Work and local self-government are enthusiastically working in the creation of an inclusive society, the other tiers of the political system and government are still struggling to wholeheartedly adopt the changes.
  • Housing construction is expensive and financial allocation is a challenge. The administrative processes for the allocation of land and construction of building are time consuming.

 

Lessons Learned

  • Housing with integrated social support is important. Housing alone is not enough and continual, long term and individually tailored support is crucial because of the multiple vulnerability people face. SHSE learned that integrated and targeted support is the most important part of social housing.
  • The importance of constructing the buildings in central locations and integrating families from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • National legislation on Social Welfare provides a general framework, while a number of decisions are taken at the municipal levels. At this level diverse needs of the families are recognised.
  • More investments are required at the beginning, especially as the host families require support and beneficiaries develop their knowledge and skills. Once, beneficiaries gain more independence, the support required is only occasional.

 

Evaluation

In 2005, evaluation was carried out by SDC. In 2010, UNHCR carried out some evaluation. In 2009, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy conducted some evaluation. All the evaluations endorsed the impact of the SHSE programme.

 

Transfer

The project has scaled up and is operating in 42 municipalities. The local governments would like to use the approach to address the needs of low income populations, not just refugees. The project learning has been used in Armenia and Georgia with support from SDC.

At a national level, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy has supported the exchange visits and training of staff in other municipalities. It has supported the networks of Centres for Social Work, the final beneficiaries and the host families so that they learn from each other.

With the support from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the positive experience has been shared with organisations in South Caucasus, Armenia and Georgia. Study visits have also taken place to Georgia and Armenia.

Authors:

Social Inclusion and Improvement of Living Conditions for Roma

0

Social Inclusion and Improvement of Living Conditions for Roma

Mismatches Segregation Cultural suitability Diversity
Policies and regulations National policies
Urban Design Liveability Equity

Main objectives of the project

Date

  • 2014

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: World Habitat

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Novi Sad City
Country/Region: Novi Sad, Republic of Serbia

Description

The Roma are among the most vulnerable communities in Europe with a long history of persecution and discrimination perpetrated against them. Most live in segregated areas in poor quality and unhealthy housing. The project seeks to improve housing conditions and better integrate Roma people within wider society, including lobbying for equal access to public services. It has upgraded houses, improved sanitation, helped to improve school attendance, learning and helped people into work. The project’s ‘Dweller-driven Upgrading of Roma Settlements Model’ is now being successfully scaled up across Serbia.

 

Project Description

What are its aims and objectives?

The project aims to provide better living conditions for Roma People and help the Roma community better integrate with society. It aims to do this by:

  • Helping Roma people to improve and upgrade their homes and sanitation system.
  • Help more Roma children into mainstream education.
  • Improve employment rates amongst Roma people enabling them to earn a good level of income.
  • Advocating on behalf of Roma people to help them get equal access to public services.

During 2008-2012, the project successfully developed, tested and implemented a programme of improving the housing and living conditions of 3000 Roma living in 13 settlements. In addition, training support was provided to 630 Roma children. The current phase of this project aims to consolidate, scale up and institutionalise the approaches developed so far.

What context does it operate in?

Serbia has one of the largest Roma populations in Europe, estimated to be around 500,000. The government lacks the capacity and resources to develop Roma settlements. The Roma community is rarely involved in decisions about their settlements and housing. Roma people are among the most vulnerable communities in Europe, with a long history of persecution and discrimination. The Roma communities are also amongst the most deprived and socially excluded in Europe. In Serbia about 60 per cent of the Roma population is considered very poor, an estimated 60 per cent live below the poverty line of $2 per person a day. Twenty-six per cent of Roma children are regularly confronted with malnutrition, while only 46 per cent of them have a proper meal every day. Only 11 per cent of Roma settlements are considered developed, while most settlements are considered informal or illegal. Most Roma live in substandard houses without access to sanitation and with limited access to public infrastructure. Forty-five per cent of Roma settlements are located on land that is unsafe, risky and considered illegal. As compared to the general population, Roma people have a lower rate of joining and/or completing school education or getting employment.

What are its key features?

The project addresses the complex issues the Roma community face in a holistic way through partnerships between the Roma community, state institutions and municipalities. This compares to other previous approaches that have concentrated largely on providing housing. The project assists people in making decisions about upgrading their settlements through a ‘dweller driven approach’. The project places a high priority on owner occupation. This helps create an incentive for occupiers to improve and upgrade their own homes.  Labour and recycled materials are contributed by the families and the project invests on average Euro 2,150 per house for new materials. In addition, the project has raised money to pay for upgrading of sanitation and infrastructure in Roma settlements.  The project also helps Roma families introduce their children to mainstream schools. The project has provided mentoring support to 300 Roma pupils, through supporting the work of 14 teaching assistants.  Roma children in other schools have been granted vouchers to purchase necessary school equipment and school uniforms.  The project helps people seek new employment and helps develop their skills.  The service is provided in partnership with the National Employment Service.  This service has been used by 80 people.  In addition, 1,050 Roma returnees to Serbia have used the services of the legal and migration counselling centre.

How is it funded?

The project is largely funded by the donations from the Swiss Church Aid (HEKS-EPER) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Between 2008 and 2012, EHO and its partners invested approximately Euro 2.4 million in improving the living conditions of Roma in settlements out of which, Euro 1.21 million came from the SDC, HEKS and Swiss Federal Office for Migrations, while Euro 0.76 million was invested by Norwegian Church Aid and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. Local municipalities invested Euro 0.38 million, while Euro 0.76 million was invested as in-kind contribution by Roma families themselves.  Advocacy and lobbying with the municipalities have resulted in in-kind contribution and co-funding of Euro 82,870 and another Euro 95,000 is budgeted for 2014. While a number of national government departments are supporting the project and promoting this as a best practice in the Serbia, thus contributing in kind.

What impact has it had?

The project has had a significant impact on Roma population. During the period 2008-12, the project improved the living conditions of 3000 Roma, living in 13 settlements. This project has successfully tested the ‘dweller-driven upgrading’ approach, which was validated by an independent evaluation completed in 2011. During this period, educational support was provided to 630 children, on the job training was provided to 240 Roma and 186 people received legal advice and counselling services.  The 2013-15 phase of the project is currently scaling-up the approach in nine municipalities, with an estimated 19,000 Roma benefiting. The housing conditions of 540 people have already been improved. They have better access to water, sanitation and electricity.  The mentoring service in schools has continued and provided support to 300 Roma pupils, which has significantly increased attendance rates. Seven hundred pupils have received vouchers to purchase school items.  One thousand and fifty Roma have received legal and migration counselling services to assist them with resettlement. Eighty people have benefited from the services to access employment or start to earn an income. The project offers a model to municipalities on how to upgrade Roma settlements and to promote their inclusion in the society.

 

Why is it innovative?

The partnership between the municipalities and the Roma communities with a common goal is perhaps the most innovative element of this project. As compared to a project that just delivers physical housing run by the government or an NGO, this project combines the relative strengths of the institutions involved. It also places a high priority on beneficiary ownership and improves their existing structure and fully utilises their skills and knowledge.  It does not just focus on housing needs but also strengthens the economy of the Roma population and supports the education of their children.  This contributes to their overall wellbeing.

 

What is the environmental impact?

The manual produced by the project encourages the use of recycled bricks, roof tiles and timber.

The project significantly improves the water and sanitation systems, creating a healthier water supply for people and reducing the pollution of water courses. There are a number of positive impacts on the local environment, especially as the Roma settlements are upgraded.

 

Is it financially sustainable?

The project is funded by grants from international donors and church-based organisations. The project has used the funds to build capacity and lobby for more resources from the government. There is evidence that in future the project will continue to receive government funds, local funds and community contributions.

The project has been successful in helping the Roma community access employment and acquires new skills. The project also uses the labour of the Roma and assists in the education of Roma children. This has resulted in pupils staying at school and improving education levels.

 

What is the social impact?

The project helps support the integration of Roma people into society. It also facilitates the mutual support and cooperation among Roma community.  The project helps develop people with courses, business plan training and basic equipment, which help them to seek employment. However, employment levels remain low, partly as a result of the poor labour market in the country. The project also provides basic building skills training through a manual and on the job training.  The project also inspired significantly increased school attendance amongst Roma children. The project has significantly improved housing and access to basic services, such as water and sanitation. Both settlements and housing have improved, resulting in health improvement. Health and safety improvements are not generally measured through the project monitoring.   The project has succeeded to a large degree by enhancing employment and self-employment opportunities. It has achieved this by advising Roma returnees, host communities and local authorities and institutions on matters relating to Roma rights, migration issues, legal subjectivity and personal documentation, etc. It has also supported communities in building sanitation facilities and upgrading their housing.

 

Barriers

The project has identified four challenges and measures were put in place to overcome those:

  • Beneficiary selection was a challenge at the inception of the project. It is now done with local government representatives and shared with the community. For added participation, Roma Settlement Development Boards are established by the municipality.
  • Active cooperation of the municipality was a challenge at the beginning. Now, local government is involved in all aspects of the project to avoid the risk of lack of cooperation and to enhance the sustainability. Similarly at the inception, the Roma community was also not sure of the benefits of the project.
  • The evaluation carried out in 2011 also identified the challenges of finding employment for the Roma community. Skills, training and ‘know how’ is not enough to put them on the employment ladder.

 

Lessons Learned

The project brings together the strengths of various partners: the donors, municipalities, government departments and the Roma community itself. It involves the Roma community, both in making choices and involvement in planning and designing and works with clearly defined and systematic procedures. It works with a group, who have been treated as the passive beneficiaries in the past. The project has promoted an approach through which owners take the lead on identifying and working on the need to upgrade housing and settlements. This guarantees ownership of the work and its sustainability. Additional support to the participants, in terms of residence registration, schooling, finding employment and income are considered as integral parts of the upgrading process.

 

Evaluation

Since 2013 the project has undertaken systematic monitoring and evaluation based on the baselines and indicators. An external evaluation was carried out in 2011 and another evaluation is planned for autumn 2015. Monitoring is also carried out of the activities and expenditure. The project submission also includes an independent auditor’s report for the period ending 2013.

 

Transfer

The project continued from 2008 to date. It carried out an evaluation in 2011 and the current phase finishes in 2015. The trust in the approach of stakeholders, especially the donors, municipality, the government and the Roma has increased with time. The current phase of the project is the scaling up and mainstreaming phase. The EHO is making every effort to scale-up the project and help others to learn from this project. They are also making efforts to share the learning across other countries, where the Roma population is facing similar challenges.

The project has been transferred to a number of municipal corporations within the Vojvodina region.

Elements of the project have been transferred around Serbia. A separate project was established in Belgrade and central Serbia, and a decentralised project has been established in South Serbia. The project has been shared internationally and visited by a number of groups. EHO’s settlement upgrading programme was included in UN-Habitat’s Handbook of sustainable housing practices in 2012. In 2011, it was also presented at the First Housing Forum, in Budapest, Hungary. Its work has also been highlighted in the Organisation of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe’s report on housing legalisation.

Elements of the project have been incorporated by Kosovo-based NGO Voice of Roma.

Authors: