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International Roma Day: Access to housing

International Roma Day, observed on April 8, is not just about celebrating Roma culture, it also highlights the discrimination that Roma people face. Among the many problems that Roma face, one of the biggest is a lack of access to adequate housing.

According to the recently published Civil Society Monitoring Report on the National Roma Integration Strategies, the priority issues identified in this area include homelessness, poor housing quality, lack of legal title, and poor infrastructure in Roma neighborhoods. Roma households in segregated settlements on the periphery of urban areas often lack water supply and basic sanitation.

There is a lack of basic infrastructure: roads are unpaved and are in a very poor condition, or, as is often the case, do not exist at all. There is often no electricity supply in the homes in areas densely populated by Roma. In addition, a considerable number of migrant families that have returned mainly from Greece have set up informal settlements and live in slum conditions of extreme poverty without basic amenities.

Roma families face exclusion from social housing programs. Social housing for purchase is not available to Roma because the majority of them are unemployed and do not meet the income requirements of the program. For rental social housing, Roma are not considered as a specific target group.

This photo slideshow, called Roma Realities, illustrates some of the most acute housing problems of Roma families in Central and Eastern Europe.