The issues

Housing continues to remain a major issue amongst the poor in Romania with many people living in substandard or even “Developing World” conditions. Arad has several areas in which people live on the edge of the city.

These peri-urban environment are often not supplied with water, sewerage or power and housing is made up of makeshift dwellings built from scrap material. Many such homes have only one room, with few if any windows, an earth floor possibly with a rug or linoleum over it and no plumbing or adequate sanitation.

While some such areas are close to the city, they are still a long walk from schools and shops as well as social services. As some of these communities are squatting on private land that is proposed for future development the buildings will eventually be demolished, leaving these families with an uncertain future.

For those living in the city, the buildings may be of better quality but the problems faced, though different, can be as challenging. A one room basement “apartment” may be available for rent, yet the rent may consume 80 - 90 percent of the total family income, leaving very little money for food, electricity, heating and other needs.

Social housing exists for the poor but places are limited and require a lot of documentation and conditions in order to qualify. Even for those who do succeed in obtaining housing the problem of paying rent and utilities remains. Help with finding adequate employment and help with financial management is a major issue.

How we help

Whilst we are unable to provide housing, we are able to help people with the process of applying for social housing, We are also able to help in certain situation with minor repairs or find solutions for heating, such as helping families to make claims for winter fuel allowance or other state benefits. Where possible, and dependent on funds we also help with occasional crisis grants for wood or food.

One of the most used services at the “Secret Garden” is the washing machine where people who do not either having a washing machine or even running water are able to come and wash clothes. While their clothes are washing they can ask for advice from our staff and volunteers, receive help with filing in forms or just relax and chat over a cup of tea of coffee.

How you can help

Our long term vision is to find a way to provide a piece of land for families on which to build a small house where they would be able to live without the daily fear of eviction or bulldozers. Clearly this would involve money, so gifts of money towards this specific need will be saved until such time as we are then able to afford to purchase some land. Donations towards helping people pay the taxes required when applying for jobs, claiming any benefit or applying for housing also help, as of course do donations towards buying winter fuel and food.