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Social Homes Project in town Dupnitsa
 
Boyan Zahariev
Program director, Open Society Institute
 
18.05.2012
 
A large part of Roma households in Dupnitsa are in great need of new homes. The income of the majority of households, however, does not allow for a change of home. The average Roma home in Dupnitsa is of relatively small size: about 33 square meters, and the majority of homes vary in area within the range of 20 to 60 sq.m. There are rare exceptions, too: large homes of area over 200 sq.m.
 
This is the situation established by the survey conducted in Dupnitsa among Roma households by Open Society Institute Sofia in March 2012. About 300 households in Dupnitsa were interviewed with the immediate objective to collect data about their income status and housing conditions.
 
The typical Roma household in Dupnitsa is a four-member, and every fifth household has five or more members; however there are much larger households numbering from 8 to 10 members. The income of ¾ of the surveyed Roma households is to 150 BGN per person, and nearly 60% of the surveyed households have income of up to 100 BGN per person, while 20% have income of up to 50 BGN per person. Nearly 80% of these households live below the official poverty line for this country, which coincides with the poverty line accepted by EUROSTAT.
 
The data from the sociological research indicate that over one third of the Roma in Dupnitsa have attended school for not more than four school years and about 60% have attended school for six school years at the most. More than half of the Roma live in overcrowded homes: by their own estimate and according to the European criteria for congestion. Added to this index is the bad condition of the homes established along numerous criteria among which leaking roof, humidity, mould, poorly sealed windows and doors, impossibility to maintain comfortable temperature in the cold months of the year.
 
A considerable number of the households meet the end of the month "on the red budget side". The average balance is slightly positive, about 22 BGN saved per household; however this average value hides large differences – some households sink in unmanageable debts of 100 BGN or more per month, which accumulate over time. Others do comparatively well and manage to save money, especially in the months when they derive income from overtime work or through other random gains.
 
More information from the survey presented by Boyan Zahariev (Program director in Open Society Institute) can be found here.
 
This research has been conducted with the support of the Making the Most of EU Funds for the Roma (MtM) program and accomplished by OSI Sofia. The objective is to support the planning and implementation of a pilot project for social homes in Dupnitsa funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by additional measures under other EU funds. The data obtained from household surveys are very useful for the planning of social housing projects, especially for the estimation of the size of needed homes, criteria for beneficiary selection and accompanying measures for support of accommodated households.
 
The social homes will be constructed in the proximity of Gizdova Mahala neighbourhood. The building of homes of suitable size cannot happen without knowledge on the composition of the needy households, and the development of criteria for the selection of households to be accommodated in the new homes requires data about the distribution of income and other important socio-economic characteristics. Last but not least, a large-scale social housing program needs to have a clear view as to what degree the socially disadvantaged households in need of homes will be capable of keeping them in good condition and of covering the incurred monthly utility and maintenance costs.

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18.10.2012

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