Homelessness and Housing   Exclusion in Serbia      Mina Petrović, University of Belgrade                mipetrov@sbb.rs  ...
HAUSING DEVELOPMENT CENTER FOR      SOCIALLY VULNERABLE GROUPS   Housing Development Center for Socially Vulnerable Group...
Conceptual frame: homelessness as the   most serious example of social exclusionMultidimensional phenomenon: deprivation o...
Context of Serbian society    Homelessness as hidden phenomenon – without official definition,     mainly reduced to thos...
Undeveloped social housing policy1.   insufficient capacities -dramatically reduced social     housing stock after housing...
Restructuring of social care system1.   inadequate capacities & resources: irregular and small     amounts of social assis...
Research aim and methodology   To study the characteristics of population in shelters for adult and    elderly persons in...
Profile of average shelter beneficiary   Man , 51-65 years old, low education, never married   Has no income (salary or ...
Events that led to homelessness             European Research Conference     Access to Housing for Homeless People in Euro...
The way of coming into shelter            European Research Conference    Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe ...
The way of coming into shelterIn the condition that preceded entering the shelter, respondents    lacked (sufficient) inst...
Housing as cause of homelessness   Housing situation before coming to the shelter                         European Resear...
Dimensions of housing exclusionLegal domain – a significant exclusion of the beneficiaries from  the status of the owner o...
Dimensions of housing exclusionSubstandard and illegal housing - no indication of significant impact,  although, among tho...
Dimensions of housing exclusionUnaffordable renting at the private market (prevailing solution for  those who do not own t...
Dimensions of housing exclusionInaccessible rental flats in public / social sector – equal share as in   general populatio...
Expected routes out of homelessness               European Research Conference       Access to Housing for Homeless People...
The most needed support         European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe           Yor...
Sheltering without empowering   Respondents complain about the lack of information    and support from social workers in ...
Sheltering without empowering   Respondents are dissatisfied with the support in finding jobs:    «There are so many staf...
Concluding remarksRespondents’ high risk to housing exclusion comes from:1.  poor coverage with social services in spite o...
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Homelessness and Housing Exclusion in Serbia

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A presentation given by Mina Petrovic & Milena Timotijevic, Serbia at a FEANTSA Research Conference on "Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe", York, September 2012

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Homelessness and Housing Exclusion in Serbia

  1. 1. Homelessness and Housing Exclusion in Serbia Mina Petrović, University of Belgrade mipetrov@sbb.rs Milena Timotijević, Housing Center, Belgrade mtimotijevic@housingcenter.org.rs European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  2. 2. HAUSING DEVELOPMENT CENTER FOR SOCIALLY VULNERABLE GROUPS Housing Development Center for Socially Vulnerable Groups is a non-profit, non- governmental organization founded in 2004. in Belgrade, Serbia aiming to improve the living conditions of socially vulnerable groups and support their social integration and independence, through different activities (construction of housing units, support in social integration, research, public advocacy, education and other). HC pioneered Social housing in protective environment model – in accordance with Housing first policy. In 2011/2012 Housing Center undertook the research on homelessness in Serbia, in partnership with the DISC, NGO from UK and with funds from European Union. European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  3. 3. Conceptual frame: homelessness as the most serious example of social exclusionMultidimensional phenomenon: deprivation of (adequate/secure) housing (ETHOS – FEANTA 2010); exclusion from the (labor) market, from the civil status (the state redistribution - problems of access and / or stigmatization in access to social services); from the community or reciprocal relationships (including family and other social networks) (Hutchinson 2002: 172, Mandic, 2004).Dynamic interaction of individual characteristics and structural changes – culture of poverty challenges Individual- lacking of key capitals: economic, human, cultural, social, symbolic (Firdion 2005) Structural - transitional changes: economic restructuring, searching for the new concept of social and housing policy, etc.Different routes of entry and exit in different population groupsConstructivist approach – visibility of the problem, way of perceived responsibilities and strategic approaches European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  4. 4. Context of Serbian society Homelessness as hidden phenomenon – without official definition, mainly reduced to those living rough or in spaces inhabited out of necessity, increasing visibility in public spaces but not in public and policy discourses High risk of homelessness stemming from:1. widespread unemployment and poverty2. large number of refugees3. undeveloped social housing policy4. restructuring of social care system5. decreasing capabilities of family to act as social safety net European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  5. 5. Undeveloped social housing policy1. insufficient capacities -dramatically reduced social housing stock after housing privatization (around 2%)2. undeveloped safety net measures (lacking housing allowance system and regulation of private rental sector)3. extensive problem of inadequate housing equipment and infrastructure among the poor households4. extensive illegal construction (almost 20% of the housing stock) – informal social housing policy European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  6. 6. Restructuring of social care system1. inadequate capacities & resources: irregular and small amounts of social assistance, inadequate covering of targeted population, insufficient number of beds in shelters.2. insufficient flexibility and diversity in approaches: neglected role of the third sector, services reduced to emergency accommodation, little efforts directed on empowerment and sustainability of exiting homelessness, lack of support services for people leaving institutions.3. lack of coordination between relevant stakeholders on both service and policy level.4. data collecting basic and not standardized - data analysis rudimentary . European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  7. 7. Research aim and methodology To study the characteristics of population in shelters for adult and elderly persons in three largest cities in Serbia: Belgrade (136), Novi Sad (32) and Nis (5). Explorative research – descriptive analysis attempting to reconstruct key characteristics/events that lead to homelessness, as well as expected routes out of homelessness Combination of questionnaires, interviews and focus groups with persons accommodated in the shelters Research conducted in winter 2011/2012 (from December to February) European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  8. 8. Profile of average shelter beneficiary Man , 51-65 years old, low education, never married Has no income (salary or pension) Worked his whole life, now unemployed longer than 5 years and not looking for a job Hasn’t used social care services prior to shelter (soup kitchen, social assistance) Weak and exhausted social network Suffers from health problems (most usually mental health problems) Feels helpless, expects help from the state – regularly votes European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  9. 9. Events that led to homelessness European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  10. 10. The way of coming into shelter European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  11. 11. The way of coming into shelterIn the condition that preceded entering the shelter, respondents lacked (sufficient) institutional support – 31% receive social assistance, 25,7% pension, others are unemployed (mostly not registered with NEA)The facts that every third of the beneficiaries was transferred from the hospital, while 12% had nobody to take care of them, raise the question on efficiency and adequacy of the existing health/social care system. European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  12. 12. Housing as cause of homelessness Housing situation before coming to the shelter European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  13. 13. Dimensions of housing exclusionLegal domain – a significant exclusion of the beneficiaries from the status of the owner or a joint owner (only 21% in the society of homeowners)Respondent, not married; used to live with his brother in their parents’ flat (in social property), which his brother bought off through housing privatization, after which he gave a three-month deadline to respondent to move out. After that he lived on the street for 7 to 8 years. He talks about that calmly: «He bought it off. We could have done it together, but I told him to take it as I am alone and he has got a family. Which is normal… I have got two brothers and a sister. But that is not their problem but my own. He bought the flat and I moved out … and that’s the end of the story. I have no reason to love him more or to hate him more». European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  14. 14. Dimensions of housing exclusionSubstandard and illegal housing - no indication of significant impact, although, among those who named housing as a reason for coming to the shelter, those who were previously living rough or in a substandard flat are concentrated.Respondent used to work in a construction company, which he was, as he puts it, “thrown out” of, he managed to obtain his pension, but he did not get a flat from the company. He spent 20 years living in a single room, in an unclear legal status, he built a bathroom, i.e., that he found ways to upgrade the housing standard through an illegal construction. He was evicted from these premises, after which he lived on the street for more than a year. European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  15. 15. Dimensions of housing exclusionUnaffordable renting at the private market (prevailing solution for those who do not own the flat) as the major problem – over represented tenure status (22% among all respondents, 26% among those who stated housing as the main cause, and 43% among those who stated poverty as the main cause)If you live in private accommodation, and if you do not pay between the first and the fifth of the month, they will not keep you. He has a right to evict you in winter. Earlier on he could not throw you out, but now ... to throw you out even with a child. "," They don’t give a damn. Believe me I have lost the ability to talk and I don’t talk about anything anymore. Im afraid so much, I do not know where I will go, don’t know what to do, that’s it ... “ European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  16. 16. Dimensions of housing exclusionInaccessible rental flats in public / social sector – equal share as in general population - inadequately targeted and insufficiently covered.Respondents expressed high level of uncertainty over the payment of utility bills in social housing, and have no information about the conditions under which social housing is granted," Lets say these flats are given for 5 years, what will happen after 5 years. We are not informed about that ... If you did not regularly pay, and should apply again, you will certainly be refused." The lack of money is generally perceived as the biggest problem related even to social housing. European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  17. 17. Expected routes out of homelessness European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  18. 18. The most needed support European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  19. 19. Sheltering without empowering Respondents complain about the lack of information and support from social workers in applying for social housing . «The center for social work informed me, last time they deceived me, they told me that the deadline was in May and it was in March…. They tell you what you need, and you are on your own....»; European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  20. 20. Sheltering without empowering Respondents are dissatisfied with the support in finding jobs: «There are so many staff members here, so that at least one of them could concentrate on the employment ». «They mainly say that we should find a way, they distance themselves and say its not their job»; «… Find me a job, I won’t chose. If I had worked for three months I would have earned 150.000 RSD and would have solved my problem and told them „Thank you and good bye”. Why don’t they call the City authorities and ask if they have any work for us » European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012
  21. 21. Concluding remarksRespondents’ high risk to housing exclusion comes from:1. poor coverage with social services in spite of financial poverty due to high unemployment or low pensions2. unaffordable and completely unregulated private rental sector3. poor access to social housing.Consequently, there are low expectations from state support in housing and no encouragement in claiming right to the housing.Housing exclusion as inadequate or insecure housing is less significant factor than expected due to rather high institutional tolerance towards illegal construction.Homelessness and housing exclusion as multidimensional phenomena (accompanied with other dimensions of social exclusion) are additionaly aggravated by insufficiently developed risk prevention and institutionall support. European Research Conference Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe York, 21st September 2012

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