- Capital: Bucharest
- Main country facts: Joined the EU in 2007
- Population: 19.7 million
- Urbanization: 54.6%
- Life expectancy: 74.9 years
- Unemployment rate: 5.1%
- Population living below poverty line: 23.8%
Find more country facts on: CIA The World Factbook – Romania
- Date when Habitat started working in the country: 1996
- Individuals served in 2017: 3,055
- Volunteers hosted in FY17: 1,339
- Housing Solutions: New homes, rehabs, repairs
Habitat for Humanity in Romania
In 1996, Romania became Habitat for Humanity’s 50th country worldwide. Habitat Romania has two active affiliates: Habitat for Humanity Comanesti (Moldova region) and Habitat for Humanity Cumpana (on the Black Sea shore – East). The national office is in Bucharest.
The housing need in Romania
More than half the population of Romania (52 percent) is struggling with overcrowded living conditions. A lot of houses are made of improper materials or are in an advanced stages of degradation and are not equipped with basic utilities. During the cold season, heating houses is a concern for a big part of the population. 15 percent of Romanians are burdened with house maintenance costs and spend 40 percent of their income for house- related expenses.
Despite the fact that Romania is part of the European Union, more than 5 million people live in extremely poor conditions, including more than 2 million children. Some 8.5 million people (around 41 percent of the Romanian population) have no bathroom facilities with access to running water. According to national statistics, 35 percent of the housing stock in Romania is in a state of complete neglect and in need of repair.
Two-thirds of Romania’s people living in poorest conditions are in rural areas. In the cities, many dwellers live in cramped apartments in condominium complexes. Much of Romania’s housing stock is low quality and deteriorating because of a lack of maintenance. More than 10,000 blocks of flats were constructed 40-50 years ago and now need serious renovation to their infrastructure, heating systems and roofs.
In recent years, Romania has faced several bad floods, leaving thousands of people in temporary shelters every year. Similarly, the country has experienced harsh winters with heavy snowfalls that isolated many villages from the main roads and stable food supplies.
Habitat’s contribution in Romania
Habitat Romania builds homes, rehabilitates, provides advice, supports and conducts energy efficiency and disaster risk reduction and response programs for vulnerable groups. The organization runs nation-wide and regional campaigns to raise funds for its construction projects and works closely with a large number of companies who actively support charitable projects.
Big Build is an annual accelerated construction, volunteering and advocacy event, through which Habitat Romania celebrates World Habitat Day. Each year the project dimension varies from 8 to 36 houses built in five days.
Big Build 2017 was the largest accelerated construction event in Europe, gathering more than 450 volunteers – international, national and from Romanian companies – on the construction site in Bacau, Bacau County. Together with the construction volunteers, media personalities and ambassadors, Habitat built 36 houses in five days. Families who partnered with us worked at their own houses side by side with the volunteers.
Construction and rehabilitation of homes
Habitat Romania builds and renovates homes in partnership with low-income families throughout the country. This ranges from single house builds to blitz builds of 10 or more houses in just one week. Rehabilitation work is aimed at improving living conditions for families in the communist-era apartment blocks. Many of these projects support socially disadvantaged groups: Roma, orphans and families who care for members or children with special needs.
Disaster risk reduction and response
Thousands of families are left without houses following natural disasters: floods, earthquakes, fire and landslides. Over the years, Habitat Romania has helped more than 50,000 people through its disaster risk reduction and response programs. Wherever possible, Habitat Romania has rehabilitated homes destroyed by water, but often has had to rebuild them entirely. These programs are community-based and carried out in partnership with the national government and local governments and businesses.
Meet a Habitat family
Alina is living with her father and sister in a two-room social apartment. Her parents got divorced when the girls were little and now, the only one taking care of them is their father.
The mother started a new life in a village near Bacau and she visits the girls two or three times a year.
Around the age of 18, doctors discovered that Alina and her sister suffer from the same physical condition that makes walking difficult. The doctors couldn’t agree on a diagnosis, saying that most probably it is a genetic disorder. Ten years later, both girls wear walkers while attending to their daily routines inside the house. It is even more difficult for them to manage by themselves in the outside world.
The block of flats where they are currently living doesn’t have special access for people with disabilities, like many other buildings in the city. Every time they want to take a walk or go to the gym to exercise, they need to be carried by their father or friends.
Alina’s only income is social welfare, approximately 350 euro per month (about US$429). Her dream has always been to live independently. Her new Habitat home, constructed during a Big Build event and adapted to her special needs, has made that dream come true.
What you can do
You can help Romanian families improve their living conditions by taking one or more of the following actions:
Volunteer: Join one of the scheduled Global Village trips to Romania or lead your own. Contact us to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tithe: All affiliate tithe gifts are sent internationally to serve families outside of the United States. To support the work of Habitat ROMANIA, please send your tithe to: Habitat for Humanity International P.O. Box 6598 Americus, GA 31709-3498.
To learn more about Habitat projects in Romania, please contact us.
Michal Kruzliak, Program Manager
Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa