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Project on Equal Access to Housing for Roma in Vidin (2016-present)

In fall 2016, NGO Organization Drom started a project on Access to Housing for Roma in Vidin, funded by Open Society Foundations’ Human Rights Initiative. The aim of the project is to create awareness among Roma in the city of Vidin and the public society for the human right to housing for Roma.

We believe that everyone has a fundamental human right to housing, which ensures access to a safe, secure, habitable, and affordable home with freedom from forced eviction. It is the government’s obligation to guarantee that everyone can exercise this right to live in security, peace, and dignity. This right must be provided to all persons irrespective of income or access to economic resources. There are principles that are fundamental to the right to housing and are of particular relevance in Bulgaria (security of tenure, availability of services, materials, facilities, and infrastructure, affordability, safe home, accessibility, location – e.g. housing should not be built on polluted sites, or in immediate proximity to pollution sources that threaten the right to health of residents); cultural adequacy(housing and housing policies must guarantee the expression of cultural identity and diversity, including the preservation of cultural landmarks and institutions).

Floods in spring/fall often occur due to lack of sewerage system in the Roma neighborhood in Vidin, Bulgaria.

We believe that these fundamental principles as enshrined in art.25 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, art. 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Art.27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art.5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Art. 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women, are violated in the city of Vidin and we would like to support the Roma families and raise awareness about their victimization. 

The first two years of the project targeted setting up the process of legalization of houses of Roma in the segregated Roma neighbourhood (around half of the houses were illegal before the project launch), raising public awareness towards the issue on access to housing, and establishing partnerships with local stakeholders. We put together a TV program, which was broadcasted in the whole region and spread more information about the way people can legalize their houses. In the last two years, we worked on empowerment of the Roma Community through organization of workshops and round table discussions. We also set up a radio program in early 2020 that was broadcasted in the region on a monthly basis. We provided legal counselling and media outreach. The project addresses specific policy issues related to access to housing for Roma in Vidin and works with key stakeholders (Vidin Municipality and District authorities, Media, other relevant actors).