Social housing programmes in Albania too small to address needs of urban population

Nov 12, 2014

Social Houses in Tirana, Albania

The Social housing programs should pay greater attention to vulnerable communities and those who live at the margins of society and women. This was one of the main findings of two studies presented today in Tirana: “A Situation Analysis of Social Housing in Albania” and “Needs Assessment of Social Housing”.

“The Needs Assessment of Social Housing in Albania” a study implemented in three municipalities – Lezha, Berat, and Tirana sheds light on the demand and supply for social housing at the local level. The study shows that less than 20 percent of people in need have benefited from social housing programs. They are too small to address the needs of the changing urban population. According to the study, women are less likely to apply and therefore benefit from social housing programs.
Related to soft loans awarded to women, the average amount is significantly lower than men.  The study indicates  that the banking procedures for social housing soft loans are too long and costly for the vulnerable groups.

The Minister of Urban Development and Tourism present at the event highlighted:"Both studies provide good basis for us while drafting the Social Housing Strategy which is under preparation. It will lay the grounds for further investments in this sector and development of new programs in support of vulnerable groups through public-private partnerships".

The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said:  “Social housing programs need to be conceived also to fight the drivers of exclusion; they should therefore be in tandem with programs that focus on improving access to education, increasing employment opportunities, and providing access to health services. A new way of looking at social housing is needed to ensure that vulnerable communities are provided with options rather than brick and mortar”.

Ms. Toumi-Benjelloun went on to note:”I would also like to thank the Swiss Development Cooperation for the opportunity Switzerland gave the UN family to respond to this governmental priority and put housing at the center of our social inclusion work”.

“Safe and secure housing is no luxury, but a basic human right. As partners in development, we must support those in need and especially those who simply can’t afford a roof over their heads.  Today’s presentation of studies in social housing can be seen as a first step toward improvement. Before we intervene we must know about the state of housing and the people excluded in Albania. Good information and reliable statistics will allow drawing solid conclusions to make the most effective policy choices and as a result, take the most appropriate actions to address the challenge”-said Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland, Holger Tausch.

Speaking at the event the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and Youth Ms.Bardhylka Kospiri amongs others highlighted:"Social Housing programmes should target vulnerable groups that face immense challenges. Adressing those challenges requires concerted effort from both central and local governments".

Another study called: “A Situation Analysis of Social Housing in Albania” was presented during the event. It analysis the issue of social housing and addresses a broad array of concerns such as the kind of protection provided to vulnerable groups, the legal response to the issues  of homelessness as well as the main characteristics of applicants and beneficiaries.
Amongst others, the findings show that legal framework of social housing suffers from a number of problems, such as the exclusion of vulnerable groups from the scoring system and poor specification of transparency procedures and accountability mechanisms.

Only 14.34 percent of social housing applicants have benefited from available programs. Almost all municipalities rank the lack of funding as the main problem in providing social housing. The study concludes that addressing the problem of homelessness in Albania requires undertaking multiple steps simultaneously, such as revising the legal framework, shifting the attention of social housing programs and funding to the poor, and strengthening the fiscal capacities of local governments.

The findings of these two studies will inform the Housing Strategy and Action Plan of the Ministry of Urban Development and Tourism.  

These two studies are  developed by UNDP in the framework of “United Nations Support to Social Inclusion Programme in Albania” funded by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Albania and implemented by the Government of Albania and UN.

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