Almost two thirds of all Poles see housing as a major concern. Both availability and quality were identified as key issues that could cause them to consider emigration. The Habitat for Humanity Poland survey was carried out among a statistically representative group of Poles aged 16 and above. The study, conducted by Millward Brown between May and June 2015, is part of Habitat’s goal of increasing awareness of poverty housing in the country.
About one-third of all Poles identified two top concerns—the inability to renovate or refurbish their current home and improve living conditions by moving to a better or bigger space. The survey also found that around 15 percent of respondents could not afford living on their own. And, another 15 percent faced problems with paying their mortgages or utility bills.
“Over 3.2 million of Polish families have to share their living space with other tenants and almost 15% of Polish citizens experience housing poverty defined as a lack of housing or substandard conditions,” says Małgorzata Salamon, director, Habitat for Humanity Poland. “The roots of this situation lie in the private and in the public sector. Market prices for housing outweigh financial means of most Polish people, while the social policy of the state is limited and cannot solve housing problems.”
After a wave of privatization in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s, most tenants became homeowners. According to Habitat for Humanity’s 2013 Housing Review, private homeownership in Poland is about 80 percent, while the share of social housing is around 10%. In more prosperous EU states, homeownership is about 60% and social housing accounts for 20% or more.
While the survey found that housing issues ranked third after low income (84%) and unemployment (77%) as major concerns of Poles, problems with housing ranked higher than access to health services and security concerns. In fact, two-thirds of those polled said they knew families who postponed decisions to have children due to housing. And, almost 72 percent said they knew people who left the country because they could not solve their housing problems.
“From these and other studies that were carried out in 2010 and 2013 we can conclude that national housing programmes have failed to deliver the expected result,” said Salamon. She called on the new Polish government to develop a long-term national housing strategy with the focus on social housing. Resolving existing housing problems, commented Salamon, can help alleviate mounting social issues and better accommodate the needs of an increasing number of young people and stop them from opting to leave the country.
Housing problems are common these days in many European capitals. The crucial issue of whether Europeans can afford living in Europe will be discussed at the 3rd Europe Housing Forum that takes place in Berlin, 18-20 November, 2015. It will seek to stimulate both discussion and serve as a launching point for practical recommendations to improve availability and affordability of housing in Europe.