THE HOUSING SITUATION OF ROMA COMMUNITIES ANALYSIS OF THE UNDP/WORLD BANK/EC REGIONAL ROMA SURVEY DATA

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Policy brief
Tatjana Peric
2

Housing is one of the priority areas of the Decade of Roma Inclusion. The results of the 2011 Regional Roma Survey3 conducted UNDP and the World Bank, with co-funding from the European Commission (EC), suggests that this is with good reason. Disproportionate shares of Roma (compared to non-Roma living in close proximity) reside in inadequate housing without access to basic infrastructure, and as such face increased health risks. Housing deprivation is accompanied by housing insecurity: many Roma households face the threat of eviction. The right to adequate housing is a key human right: it is closely related to human development and bears special importance for minority socially vulnerable groups like Roma. International human rights law places access to adequate housing within the context of security of tenure, access to public services and infrastructure, habitability, accessibility, suitability of location and cultural adequacy. It also bans discrimination in the exercise of these rights. Fortunately, Roma housing conditions seem to have improved in some respects during the 2004-2011 period. The survey data suggest that the most signi cant progress has occurred in access to improved sanitation services, in fewer Roma living in insecure housing conditions, and in increasing square footage in Roma dwellings. By contrast, progress in access to improved water sources, and in the number of rooms per household member in Roma dwellings, seems to have been much more limited. The largest positive changes

seem to have occurred in Bulgaria and Hungary; Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina also compare favourably on many housing indicators. By contrast, in Croatia, Romania, and the Czech Republic, progress has largely been limited to improvements in Roma households’ access to modern sanitation services.

Housing deprivation
Notable gaps in housing conditions were reported by Roma and non-Roma survey respondents—particularly concerning access to electricity, improved water sources, and other infrastructure. Almost one third of Roma households surveyed in 2011 did not have access to piped drinking water inside their dwelling (Figure 1). In some countries this was the case for the majority of the Roma sampled: in Moldova, 66% of Roma households did not have access to improved water sources; 72% did not have access to these services in Romania. In all the countries surveyed except the Czech Republic, the share of Roma households living without piped water inside their dwelling was higher than for non-Roma households living in close proximity. The data for Croatia show the most notable gap: more than a third of Roma respondents (35%) were living without these facilities, compared to only 4% of non-Roma households. Even higher shares of Roma households did not have access

1/ This brief is based on a broader research paper elaborated in the context of the UNDP background series on Roma inclusion. The series includes thematic reports on employment, education, health, housing, poverty, gender, migration and civil society. The individual papers will be released in the course of 2013 and accessible from the Roma section of the UNDP BRC website: http://europeandcis.undp. org/ourwork/roma/. 2/ Tatjana Peric is an independent human rights professional and PhD Candidate in Gender Studies at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. 3/ The survey was conducted in twelve countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, the FYR of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia and Romania.

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THE HOUSING SITUATION OF ROMA COMMUNITIES

Figure 1: Households without access to improved water sources and sanitation services (in %)5
90 80 70 62 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 w AL s 30 30 30 30 50 48 35 49 50 35 34 22 18 16 11 7 2 w BA s w BG Roma
Source: UNDP/WB/EC regional Roma survey, 2011.

79 72 66

78

52

52 44 38 38

18 15 15 5 2 s w CZ 1 s 0 w H non-Roma 8 s 9 4 w HR s 5 w MD s

10 2 w ME 5 s 3 0 w MK s 9 w RO s

17 12 12 7 w RS s w SK s

to improved sanitation facilities (i.e., a toilet or bathroom inside their dwelling). The highest incidences of this deprivation were recorded in Moldova and Romania—79% and 78%, respectively. The most notable gap was registered in Bulgaria, where 62% of Roma respondents did not have a toilet or a bathroom inside their dwelling, compared to only 18% of non-Roma living in close proximity. Access to improved sanitation services was the most serious dimension of Roma housing deprivation in all countries surveyed. In Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,4 for example, the shares of Roma households without indoor toilets or bathrooms were 12 and 11 times higher than the share of Roma households without indoor drinking water, respectively. These disparities most probably re ect the general underdevelopment of communal service infrastructure in rural areas (where signi cant numbers of Roma communities are located), or perhaps the lower capital intensity of water supply construction projects (compared to sewage facilities). Roma access to electricity was better than to improved water and sanitation services, ranging from 96% (in the Czech Republic and Macedonia) to 83% (Bosnia and Herzegovina). However, this access was still more limited for Roma households than for their non-Roma neighbours. While the lack of access to electricity seems less pronounced than for water and sanitation, it has grave health implications. In most of the region, the Roma households surveyed were less likely

to use electricity for cooking and heating than non-Roma households living in close proximity. Usage of wood and coal was therefore more frequent in Roma households— with all the attendant health concerns (e.g., respiratory illnesses) associated with indoor combustion of solid fuels. The survey data also indicate that more Roma households face nancial constraints in heating their dwellings, compared to their non-Roma neighbours. Roma households are therefore more likely to live in conditions of cold, as well as of indoor pollution from burning solid fuels. Solid waste collection services are also less available for Roma households, compared to non-Roma living in their vicinity. In fact, in most of the locations surveyed, publicly funded waste collection services were not available at all for Roma households. More generally, the neighbourhoods inhabited by the Roma households surveyed were less likely to bene t from infrastructure improvements than other proximate neighbourhoods.

Habitability and security of housing
The survey data indicate that large shares of Roma households live in ruined houses or slums, compared to non-Roma respondents living in close proximity. The share of surveyed Roma households living in insecure housing ranged from 14% in the Czech Republic to 42% in Montenegro (Figure 2).

4/ Hereafter: “Macedonia” or MK”. 5/ For visual clarity, the following abbreviations were used in the graphs: AL (Albania), BA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), BG (Bulgaria), H (Hungary), HR (Republic of Croatia), CZ (Czech Republic), MD (Moldova), ME (Montenegro), MK (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), RO (Romania), RS (Republic of Serbia), and SK (Slovakia). The abbreviations are following the country codes used by EUROSTAT, http:// epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Glossary:Country_codes.

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THE HOUSING SITUATION OF ROMA COMMUNITIES

Figure 2: Insecure housing conditions (in %)
45 40 36 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 AL BA BG CZ H HR Roma
Source: UNDP/WB/EC regional Roma survey, 2011.

42 39 35 35 30 27 25 31

18 14 11 7 5 4

17 12 5 5 10 5

3

3

3 MD non -Roma ME

MK

RO

RS

SK

In all of the surveyed countries except the Czech Republic, Roma households were much more likely to face multiple housing deprivations—i.e., living simultaneously without improved water sources, improved sanitation services, reliable electricity and energy services, as well in insecure housing (Figure 3). Shares of such households ranged from 2% in Bulgaria and Macedonia to almost one quarter (23%) of the surveyed Roma households in Romania. The most signi cant gap between Roma and non-Roma respondents was likewise registered in Romania (a 19 percentage point di erence). Roma households are also more likely to inhabit smaller amounts of living space—a particularly hardship in light of relatively large Roma family sizes. The survey data indicate greater uncertainty about housing tenure in Roma households. Home ownership among Roma is less common: in every country surveyed, the share

of Roma households living in their own dwellings was lower than the share of non-Roma living in close proximity. Almost one fth of surveyed Roma households (18%), compared to 7% for non-Roma, feared eviction. The survey data also reveal extensive Roma concerns about housing discrimination (Table 1). Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Roma respondents (ranging from 77% in Slovakia to 96% in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Macedonia) viewed the signi cance of Roma working in public administration as “important” or “very important”, in the context of Roma inclusion. This suggests that many Roma feel excluded from decision making in the allocation of public housing. Regrettably, many Roma respondents were unaware of any organizations o ering support or advice to victims of discrimination.

Figure 3: Households facing multiple habitability deprivation (in %)
25 23 20 17 15 14 12 10 10 8 4 5 0 AL BA BG 2 0 CZ H HR Roma
Source: UNDP/WB/EC regional Roma survey, 2011.

16

14

2

MD non -Roma

ME

MK

RO

RS

SK

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THE HOUSING SITUATION OF ROMA COMMUNITIES

The survey data indicate that housing segregation is not only contrary to the key aims of the Roma Decade: it also ignores the wishes of the Roma themselves. Given the choice between living in better housing in non-Roma neighbourhoods/settlements versus living in worse conditions surrounded by their own people, roughly three quarters of Roma respondents preferred living in mixed areas. These preferences ranged from 65% of Roma in Moldova to 91% in Macedonia. Moreover, the survey data indicate that most non-Roma (on average 62%, in the region) also prefer this option. This result suggests that non-Roma resistance to Roma housing integration is much less extensive than what is commonly reported in the media.

bours. This is particularly an issue for Roma women—for whom employment rates are particularly low. The survey data indicate that access to banking services, and self-reported literacy rates, are much lower for Roma respondents than for non-Roma living in close proximity. If Roma households don’t have bank accounts, or are not functionally literate, they are most unlikely to qualify for mortgage loans. Gender di erences matter here as well: the survey data indicate that literacy rates for Roma women household heads are below those of Roma men in all countries surveyed.

Changes for the better during 2004-2011? Housing a ordability
The data point to the continuing importance of housing affordability issues: in all of the countries surveyed, the share of Roma respondents in arrears for water, electricity, and other housing expenses was larger than the shares of nonRoma households surveyed. While a ordability issues may largely be a re ection of income poverty in Roma communities, they also re ect the absence of formal employment status for many Roma workers—limiting their eligibility for rental leases and mortgages. In all the surveyed countries, employed Roma respondents were less likely to have written employment contracts than their non-Roma neighFortunately, Roma housing conditions seem to have improved in some respects during 2004-2011. In particular: „ Compared to the 2004 UNDP Roma survey data, the 2011 data show that Roma households’ access to piped water inside their dwellings and sanitation services had generally improved throughout the region. However, the pace of progress has been di erent in di erent countries— and some regression also seems to have occurred (Figure 4). Also, improvements in access to sanitation services in countries like Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Montenegro may be largely a re ection of the low levels of access recorded in 2004.

Table 1: Allegations of discrimination
AL BA BG CZ H HR MD ME MK RO RS SK

Share of respondents alleging ethnic discrimination in the past 12 months (in %) Roma NonRoma 43 3 28 3 43 5 61 4 35 4 30 3 33 4 8 1 34 10 26 3 24 3 54 12

These data are drawn from answers to the survey question: “In the past 12 months (or since you have been in the country), have you personally felt discriminated against in [country], on the basis of one or more of the following grounds?” Possible answers—for non-Roma: “Because of ethnicity”; for Roma: “Because you are Roma.” Share of respondents alleging ethnic discrimination in housing in the past ve years (in %) Roma NonRoma 36 6 36 8 36 7 61 2 22 6 18 0 19 0 8 4 45 33 31 0 19 0 59 5

These data are drawn from answers to the survey questions: „ “Have you, in the past ve years (or since you have been in the country, if less than 5 years) in [country] looked to buy or rent a new house or apartment or place to live?”; and „ “During the last ve years (or since you have been in the country, if less than 5 years) have you ever been in [country] discriminated against, when looking for a house or apartment to rent or buy, by people working in a public housing agency, or by a private landlord or agency?” Possible answers—for non-Roma: “Because of ethnicity”; for Roma: “Because you are Roma.”
Source: UNDP/WB/EC regional Roma survey, 2011.

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THE HOUSING SITUATION OF ROMA COMMUNITIES

Figure 4: Improvements in access to basic infrastructure, 2004-2011 (in percentage points)
45 38 35 33 25 22 19 16 15 9 5 0 -5 -2 -7 -15 AL BA BG CZ H HR ME MK RO -6 -2 -4 5 4 12 8 10 6

25

-14 RS

Improved water source
Source: UNDP/WB/EC regional Roma survey, 2011.

„ The shares of Roma respondents living in slums and ruined houses declined in ve of the ten countries surveyed. While these improvements were rather minor in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary, they were more signi cant in Macedonia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. „ Likewise, the survey data show moderate increases in average square footage per person for Roma households in most countries (Figure 5). On the other hand, signi cant deterioration in this indicator was noted for the Czech Republic, where square footage per person dropped by a third. Smaller declines were also noted in Croatia and Serbia. Moreover, except for Hungary, Bulgaria, and Albania, the average number of rooms per household member in the surveyed countries actually decreased during this time.

In sum, the most signi cant progress during 2004-2011 seems to have occurred in access to improved sanitation services, followed by reductions in numbers of Roma living in insecure housing and growth in the square footage of Roma dwellings. By contrast, progress in access to improved water sources, and in the number of rooms per Roma household member, seems to have been much more limited. The greatest progress in improving Roma housing conditions seems to have been made in Bulgaria and Hungary; Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina also compare favourably on many of the indicators examined here. By contrast, in Croatia, Romania, and the Czech Republic, progress has largely been limited to improvements in Roma households’ access to modern sanitation services. The need for greater engagement by the authorities on housing issues in these countries seems particularly pressing.

Figure 5: Progress in living space per roma household member 2004-2011 (m2)
25 21 20 15 15 12 10 12 12 13 18 16 14 14 13 14 12 16 14 14 14 15 14 22

5

0 AL BA BG CZ H 2004
Source: UNDP/WB/EC regional Roma survey, 2011.

HR 2011

ME

MK

RO

RS

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THE HOUSING SITUATION OF ROMA COMMUNITIES

Recommendations
This suggests a number of conclusions and recommendations: „ Rights-based approaches to Roma housing should be applied and commitments stemming from international human rights legal documents should be implemented. Housing is not just a roof over one’s head. „ More attention should be given to questions of housing a ordability, ghettoization and segregation. These are both the outcomes and drivers of Roma social exclusion. They often result but also in uence other areas of life, hence should be treated in terms of social inclusion, employment opportunities, adequate education, health care facilities, etc. „ A comprehensive, inclusive approach is crucial for resolving the complex housing issues faced by many Roma communities. The 2011 survey data show that the key themes of the Roma Decade—education, employment, health care, and housing—are closely linked. Attempts to address housing issues separately from other thematic areas are therefore unlikely to yield satisfactory results. „ The application of one-size- ts-all approaches to Roma housing concerns risks leaving the most vulnerable behind. The 2011 survey data suggest that Roma slum dwellers face particular challenges in terms of access to housing services, and housing quality, but also its a ordability and

location. Roma women likewise appear to be such a vulnerable group—underscoring the importance of gender-based approaches to the design and implementation of Roma-related housing policies. „ Roma housing issues cannot be reduced solely to socio-economic drivers. Housing discrimination against Roma must also be addressed. Anti-discrimination measures need to be applied, along with other steps to improve Roma housing conditions. Roma communities should likewise be provided with more information about their rights to adequate housing, anti-discrimination policies, and mechanisms for seeking redress in cases of discrimination. NGOs and other relevant institutions need to improve their outreach towards Roma communities—which in turn should be given more opportunities for meaningful involvement in designing and implementing housing policies. „ More generally, national (and European) legal and policy frameworks to address Roma housing issues are now in place. The problem is with their implementation. „ The survey data underscore the signi cance of better monitoring and evaluation of Roma housing conditions. The timely collection of relevant data, disaggregated by ethnicity and sex, is critically important. Further research on housing conditions is needed, focusing on individual countries and good practices—especially showcasing the positive e ects of inclusive and integrated approach to Roma housing issues.

United Nations Development Programme Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS Grösslingova 35811 09 Bratislava, Slovak Republic Phone: (421–2) 593 37-111 Fax: (421-2) 593 37-450 http://europeandcis.undp.org The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNDP, or their Member States.

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