Habitat for Humanity Poland
Habitat's work in Poland
Habitat for Humanity has been providing simple, decent and affordable homes to low-income families in Poland for 19 years. Habitat Poland is an active player in the fight for Polish housing legislation that will address poverty issues. In 2008, “Roof Over Head,” a coalition of 15 non-governmental organizations led by Habitat, launched an awareness campaign against poverty housing in the country.
The housing need in Poland
There is no national policy dedicated to building homes for low-income groups or helping them afford renovations. The market price of houses and land increased by 100 percent in 2004 alone, and values continue to rise every year. A comparatively high value-added tax, 23 percent, significantly adds to the cost of renovations. As a result, nearly 12 million Poles—almost a third of the population—live in overcrowded homes. More than 60 percent of apartments need serious renovation.
More than half of the housing stock is more than 40 years old. Low-quality building materials and poor insulation are resulting in high monthly energy bills, making funds even scarcer for families to improve their living conditions.
How Habitat addresses the need
Habitat for Humanity activities in Poland range from building new affordable houses to renovating condominium blocks. The renovation program, in particular, has turned into a viable answer to the long search for an efficient way to help more families in need. Renovation projects have been completed throughout the country in partnership with homeowners’ associations.
Here are some examples of Habitat projects in Poland:
- Housing solutions for vulnerable groups
Through a number of different projects, Habitat Poland is committed to help the neediest families and individuals get a decent shelter. The main aim of these projects is to help vulnerable groups of people gain more independency and thus enable them to lead normal fulfilling lives. Projects include renovation of homeless shelters in Miechowice and Gliwice; construction works and repairs of facilities for people with addiction problems as well as improvement of housing conditions for disabled people.
- Renovation of apartments and condominiums
Habitat Poland concluded several rehabilitation projects in different cities throughout the country, all in partnership with tenants’ associations. Renovations were conducted in common areas, such as corridors and staircases. Habitat Poland would like to continue in its previous efforts and identify the root causes of the poor technical standards of condominiums in Poland and appropriate, feasible and sustainable solutions to fix the problems.
- Energy efficient homes
According to The Council of Care for Homeless People in Warsaw one of the biggest problems the beneficiaries of social reintegration programs in Poland are facing is the lack of available social flats where such individuals could start their own households. This can slow down the whole reintegration process significantly. Habitat for Humanity Poland is using environment friendly, low-cost technology to construct energy efficient homes for 8 families (former homeless) who successfully completed a social reintegration program.
- Bringing about the change in poverty housing
In order to change the situation of many people living in substandard housing, legislative changes need to be made first. In cooperation with the coalition “Dach nad Glowa” (Roof over Head), Habitat Poland is achieving this through lobbying, public campaigning, education and volunteer mobilization.
Meet a Habitat family
The life of Ms Janina Osipiuk (80) has not been an easy one. She spent one year in a work camp in Germany during World War II and since then has had poor health. She suffers from eye cancer and osteoporosis. Janina occupies a two room apartment in a small cottage, semi-attached to another building. She used to share the second room with one of her daughters and her son-in-law. The room lacked heat, electricity or water, but the couple somehow managed.
After the necessary roof and chimney repairs and external insulation her house is much warmer and quieter and she is no longer worried about roof leaks during severe winters. She is very grateful to Habitat Poland for giving her the chance to finally live her life in dignity.
Main country facts: Joined NATO in 1999, joined EU in 2004
Population: More than 38 million
Find more country facts on:
CIA The World Factbook – Poland
When the program started: 1992
Highlights: Opening ceremony of the first house in Gliwice was honored by Millard Fuller, co-founder of Habitat for Humanity
Families served: More than 750