Secure tenure of land and property is essential for people who, for various reasons, are not owners of houses they live in.
However, Poland is among European Union countries with the greatest housing shortages; there are only 360 houses per 1,000 inhabitants. In the case of many households, rent is deemed exceedingly high, consuming over half of their income. Despite enormous need, government subsidized housing makes up just 10% of the overall number of residential buildings in Poland. This causes wait times for such apartments to range from 3 to 20 years. The homes that do exist are often substandard and overcrowded.
Habitat for Humanity Poland is implementing the Solid Ground campaign to increase security of tenure through a broad and holistic advocacy strategy: promoting model solutions, monitoring national policies, creating coalitions of civil society organizations and conducting research and advocacy work.
In order to change the housing market in Poland, Habitat Poland is promoting initiatives intended to increase the availability of rentals, especially for those in the “rental gap”, i.e. with incomes too high for social housing but too low to afford private rental or mortgage loans. By implementing social rental agencies and other projects, Habitat Poland strives to promote solutions that are more secure both for tenants and landlords.
Habitat Poland consistently monitors national policies, intervening in government practices to promote housing legislation that is pro-poor and increases security of tenure. Among laws and documents of interest are: Act on Tenants Protection, National Housing Programme, National Revitalization Bill and Act on Subsidies for Creating Temporary Premises.
In monitoring this legislation, Habitat Poland has advocated for long-term rental contracts, improving conditions of state-owned housing, rent ceilings and anti-eviction measures. Last year they issued eight official statements on necessary changes in laws and policy documents. Their role as a policy watch-dog continues as housing needs are still not properly addressed.
This work would not be possible without working in coalition with other civil society organizations. Seeking a multifaceted solution, Habitat Poland created the Housing Forum, a group of non-governmental organizations, municipal and private partners. Habitat Poland acts as a facilitator for the group, connecting partners to aid municipal leaders who are ultimately responsible for providing housing.
Within their research and advocacy work, Habitat Poland has published numerous reports and analyses, encouraging public authorities to support the idea of social rental agencies. As a result of this work, the Ministry of Investments and Development launched a program offering USD $4 million to create similar social rental agency pilot projects. Despite unsatisfactory outcomes of the government program so far, with improvements the program has the potential to impact those in the rental gap. Habitat Poland’s social rental agency pilot project aimed at providing rental units for 40 households in Warsaw has already proved the efficacy of their practices. The example of Poznań, where a social rental agency was established without governmental funding, has demonstrated that such a model may be successfully replicated.