Who are the people behind the European Citizens’ Initiative Housing for All? Read our interview with Katarzyna Przybylska, the Advocacy Manager of Habitat for Humanity Poland.
What is your organization doing, what are your tasks?
Habitat for Humanity Poland is a Christian housing organization which works for improving housing conditions of low-income people and preventing homelessness. We are part of a global network of nonprofit housing organizations (Habitat for Humanity) working in approximately 70 countries.
Our activities in Poland include:
- building and renovating housing units in partnership with people in housing need, organizations and volunteers;
- implementing housing innovations which increase access to affordable and decent housing, for example Social Rental Agency;
- acting in the name and for the benefit of people in housing need in order to, among others, improve the effectiveness of housing policy.
Why do you support the European Citizens’ Initiative Housing for All?
The situation on a Polish housing market is difficult. The basic statistics show that:
- 60% of Polish households cannot afford mortgage nor renting a flat on an open market,
- over 40% of Poles live in overcrowding; the statistics are even worst for young people (between 15 and 29) – 54% of them live in overcrowding,
- around 40% of Polish households fall into so-called “rent-gap” – are not eligible for municipal housing but cannot afford flats on an open market either,
- there is a deficit of affordable housing units of circa 1,5 million units.
Those issues could only be solved on a national or international level. The demands of Housing for All, if successful, will definitely have an impact on the Polish housing market. Thanks to a better access to EU funding for housing or not applying the Maastricht criteria to public investment in affordable housing more houses will be built in Poland. Therefore, Habitat Poland strongly supports the Initiative.
How do you bring the idea of Housing for All to the people? What works best and where are there hurdles?
Our intention is to promote Housing for All Initiative as broadly as possible. We would like everyone to hear about the Initiative and demands. At the same time, we are trying to use this opportunity to increase public awareness of the housing situation and the problems that we are struggling with in Poland. It is also a great opportunity to inform the public opinion about the need for affordable housing and the number of people falling into the “rent-gap”.
We have informed the media about the initiative, we are promoting it on various events, we are encouraging NGOs and people we are working with to support the Initiative. What works best is cooperation with other non-governmental organizations – they encourage people to get involved with the Initiative what gives a better visibility. What is surprising is that people in Poland seem to be reluctant to sign any kinds of petitions, even though they agree with the demands and even though they are approached personally.
Picture: Katarzyna Przybylska, (c) Habitat for Humanity Poland