Macedonia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Substandard housing is a reality for many families in Macedonia.
The change from a heavy reliance on subsidies to the logic of the free market in the 1990s led to rigid urban planning and significant deterioration of urban services in Macedonia. Consequently, the number of new dwellings completed per year dropped substantially. In response, the price of housing rose beyond what many families could afford.
Since average families cannot afford to buy new homes due to the hard financial conditions to meet, many families live in their parents’ houses. More generations living in one house is a frequent phenomenon. The average age of buildings in Macedonia is about 30 years and, due to the poor maintenance, they are in need of immediate reconstruction/renovation.
Therefore, the principal type of need HFH Macedonia is addressing is that for reconstruction/renovation of the existing dwelling stock, especially targeting low income families that were unable to improve their living conditions. The traditional working poor that have been forgotten are offered now with partnership that might help them find decent and affordable housing solution.
Macedonia has been going through political and economic transition under the circumstances that were unusual for most Eastern European countries. Although it was the only former Yugoslav republic to gain independence peacefully, its transition from a centrally-planned into a market economy has been ridden with problems.
The implications of the conflicts in the region and the growing fractures within Macedonian society led to an interethnic crisis that ended in late 2001 with a political agreement still being in implementation.
As a consequence of a long-lasting instability, Macedonia’s national income dropped substantially. Unemployment rose significantly, accompanied by a sharp fall in family incomes and a general rise in poverty levels. Macedonia’s unemployment rate is among the highest in Europe, reaching 36 per cent in 2004. The number of people living below the national poverty level has exceeded 25 per cent.
The beginnings of HFH in Macedonia
In January 2003 a group of committed people from all over Macedonia expressed a willingness to start up a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Macedonia. Inspired by Habitat’s mission and ready to put in their values, experience and time to help those in need, the interest group has been officially recognized as an HFH affiliate in June 2004.
The first innovative project was launched in early spring 2005. In partnership with a local microfinance institution HFH Macedonia has established a Home Improvement Fund that provides micro-loans for reconstruction and renovation of the substandard housing in Macedonia.
• The signing of partnership between HFH Macedonia and “Mozhnosti was attended by Stevco Jakimovski, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia.
• As of the end of June 2005 the first loans have been distributed while the first completed reconstructions are expected three months later.