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Video of the conference „Policies for improvement of the housing conditions of vulnerable groups on municipal and natiоnal level“

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On April 14th, 2022 Habitat Bulgaria hosted the conference „Policies for improvement of the housing conditions of vulnerable groups on municipal and natiоnal level“.

The agenda covered housing related issues on local, national and global level. Habitat Bulgaria raised pressing issues like the fact that Bulgaria still hasn’t adopted a National Housing Strategy, and that there is no unified legislation for the regulation of the public provision of housing. The event took place both in-person at Grand Hotel Astoria, Sofia and online. A total of almost 120 participants joined, amongst them representatives of 4 state institutions, 20 municipal administrations, 24 non-governmental organizations, 3 universities and 8 media.

Opening words gave the deputy-minister at the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW), arch. Stefan Asparuhov, the secretary of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnics and Integration Issues, Rositsa Ivanova, and Mincho Benov, director of Habitat Bulgaria. Some of the key participants were: arch. Dima Lekova – Acting Director of the Housing Policy Directorate of the MRDPW, Vessela Zvezdanova – Head of the “Strategies and Programs” Department of the MRDPW, eng. Plamen Petrov – expert at the MRDPW, Stefan Radev – Mayor of Sliven Municipality, as well as representatives of a number of municipalities and non-governmental organizations.

Based on the recommendations for improvement of the local housing policies, good practices from other countries with similar profile and strategic directions on European and global level, Habitat Bulgaria presented its recommendations for the national housing policy and regulations. The conference participants agreed upon the idea that, in the first place, it is necessary to adopt a long-term national housing strategy with a horizon up to 2050, with clear vision, priorities and measurable targets set in it, in order to ensure access to quality housing for all. With regard to the Social Services Law, it is important the Bulgarian Government to agree upon establishing of a new service of general economic interest i.e. social housing, for the provision of which the municipalities shall receive compensation from the state.

Watch the full video of the conference here 👇

 

The project „Research Based Arguments for New Housing Policies in Benefit of All” is implemented with financial support of 93,000 Euro, secured by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway within the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The main goal of the project is to contribute to the development of long-term, needs-driven municipal and national housing policies, which will secure safe and adequate housing for Roma.

This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Active Citizens Fund of Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area. The entire responsibility for the content of the document lies with the Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria Foundation and under no circumstances can it be assumed that this document reflects the official opinion of the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria Operator.

 


Recommendations for improving the access to municipal and social housing. “Direct”, Bulgaria ON AIR

Video

Само 3% от жилищата у нас са общинска собственост. Тоз фонд освен, че е недостатъчен, се оказва стар и много амортизириан. Данните са от последното проучване на Хабитат България – „Жилищни потребности и нагласи на семействата в квартали с концентрация на бедност в общините Сливен и Търговище“.

Минчо Бенов, национален директор на Хабитат България, коментира темата в предаването “Директно” по телевизия Bulgaria ON AIR. По думите му необитаемият жилищен фонд в страната може да се използва за решаване на проблемите на хората с жилищни нужди.

Проблемите за решаване, които стоят пред местните власти у нас, са твърде много. Част от основните стъпки, които трябва да бъдат предприети са:
• Важно е държавата да осигури социален жилищен фонд и да признае достъпа до жилище за основно човешко право;
• Ясно правно регламентиране на характеристиките и функциите на социалните жилища, както и местните власти да бъдат подпомагани чрез програми и финансови ресурси, за да предоставят достатъчно на брой и качествени общински жилища.

Вижте целия разговор във видеото тук 👇

ЛИНК КЪМ ВИДЕО >> Предлагат ясен регламент за общинските жилища у нас


Video of the conference “Towards energy efficient and climate-neutral building stock”

Video

На 13-ти април 2022 г. заедно с нашите партньори от Центърa за енергийна ефективност ЕнЕфект проведохме конференция на тема “Към енергийно ефективен и климатично неутрален сграден фонд – Какво означават промените в Директивата за енергийните характеристики за сградите за националните политики в сградния сектор?”

Основните теми:
✅ Енергийната ефективност на сградите като елемент от националната сигурност и икономическото развитие;
✅ Политиките за енергийна ефективност на сградите: визия, планиране и програми за подпомагане;
✅ Привличане на частни инвестиции;
✅Граждански инициативи, комуникация с потребителите, умения и капацитет.

Защо събитието “Към енергийно ефективен и климатично неутрален сграден фонд” е важно?
✅ Защото за първи път двама български евродепутати отговарят за промените в Директивата за енергийните характеристики на сградите – Радан Кънев – евродепутат на Демократите и Цветелина Пенкова. Ние все още не успяваме да приложим версията от 2010 г., затова не е зле да помислим как да се справим с новата;
✅ Защото сградният фонд много отдавна не е бил в полезрението на #МОСВ, а той е ключов за опазването на околната среда и климата. Борислав Сандов ще е с нас;
✅ Защото имаме нов заместник-министър на регионалното развитие – Стефан Аспарухов, от когото ще зависят качеството на реформите в #НПВУ и програмите за енергийна ефективност;
✅ Защото тези реформи са ключови за изпълнението на Стратегията за сградно обновяване. Нашата, разработена от #АУЕР под ръководството на Ивайло Алексиев, е много добра, но изпълнението ѝ е под сериозна заплаха;
✅ Защото неправителственят сектор и професионалните асоциации са обединени както никога досега във вижданията си за необходимите реформи. Юлиан Попов и Иван Велков са точните хора, които могат да обобщят техните послания.

Научете повече от пълния запис на конференцията тук 👇

 


Housing without a future?

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Has the housing stock in Bulgaria been managed properly? Who should support it?

A national housing strategy for 2018-2030 was drafted in 2018, but it has not yet been adopted.

Learn more about Habitat Bulgaria’s recommendations for improving the local housing policies and practices in the video below.

Habitat Bulgaria is implementing the project „Research Based Arguments for New Housing Policies in Benefit of All” in the period from October, 2019 to April, 2022. The project has been funded within the first call for strategic projects of Active Citizen Fund Bulgaria with the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area.

 
 


Habitat distributes hotel vouchers at Ukrainian border, activates plan to help refugees with shelter needs in four countries

Photo credit: Umit Bektas / Reuters Pictures.
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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (March 4, 2022) — Habitat for Humanity this week began distributing hotel vouchers to families fleeing the violence in Ukraine as the humanitarian housing organization ramps up its efforts to reduce the vulnerability of refugees and meet their shelter needs in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

The vouchers, secured through Habitat’s partnership with Ibis hotels, allow refugees arriving in Romania to stay five nights for free in one of five company hotels and also give them access to transportation to the hotels. The initial voucher distributions near the Ukrainian border came as the crises reached a somber milestone: more than 1 million refugees have now been forced from their homes and out of Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency. Up to 4 million people could be displaced if the situation deteriorates further, the UN says, creating Europe’s largest refugee crisis of this century.

Photo credit: Umit Bektas / Reuters Pictures.

“Right now we are really trying to meet refugees where they are, in terms of determining what they need most and how we can help ensure they have access to safe, secure shelter,” Rick Hathaway, Habitat’s vice president for Europe and the Middle East, said from northern Romania’s border with Ukraine. “The shelter needs could be staggering, so Habitat is mapping out a response strategy in coordination with the many partners and communities where we’ve established relationships over the past 30 years in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Habitat for Humanity is supporting families who are on the move in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia while also helping refugees along a path to more permanent, durable shelter. Habitat prioritizes support for particularly vulnerable refugees, including children, the elderly and those who are neither citizens of Ukraine nor the country they have arrived in.

This is particularly important amid reports of discrimination against refugees of African and Asian origin at the Ukrainian border, Hathaway said. “Every refugee, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, physical ability, age, gender or religion, deserves equitable access to shelter and any other forms of support,” Hathaway said. “Discrimination in any form is against humanitarian principles and can’t be tolerated.”

Habitat’s work supporting refugees in transition from Ukraine has included the installation of space heaters in refugee reception centers of northern Romania, where displaced families have been staying temporarily amid snow and nighttime temperatures that dip below freezing. In Hungary, meanwhile, Habitat teams have been providing refugees with emergency supplies such as water, diapers and lighting.

Habitat plans to partner with refugees seeking longer-term shelter as well, including through subsidies that make rental housing more affordable. Habitat wants to lend housing and construction expertise to efforts to repurpose so-called empty spaces – from unused schools to factories – so they can serve as shelter for refugees. We are also identifying more permanent housing solutions, such as refurbished rental housing, in host countries.

Those who wish to support Habitat’s disaster response efforts in the countries bordering Ukraine and other communities around the world can donate to our Disaster Response Fund.

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.


Wienerberger and Habitat for Humanity International extend partnership to build and advocate for affordable homes

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ATLANTA (Feb. 28, 2022) — Wienerberger Group, a supplier of building materials and infrastructure solutions, today announced it is extending a decade-long partnership with Habitat for Humanity International for an additional three years. Wienerberger will donate bricks, roof tiles and piping materials for use in Habitat homes while also contributing its expertise and volunteers to help advance Habitat’s mission.

Through the partnership, Habitat will be able to build or improve 300 housing units in Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the United States. Wienerberger and Habitat will also team up to advocate for better affordable housing and energy efficiency policies, including through national and regional housing forums.

Since launching their partnership in 2012, Wienerberger and Habitat have helped nearly 5,000 people access healthier, safer and more energy-efficient homes. Joint advocacy efforts have led to policy changes at the national and municipal level impacting more than 600,000 people.

“We continuously support a whole range of social projects and institutions in many countries Wienerberger operates in, by supplying not only building materials and infrastructure solutions but also our sustainable building know-how,” said Heimo Scheuch, chairman of the managing board of Wienerberger Group. “Our cooperation with Habitat for Humanity also contributes substantially toward raising the public’s awareness of the need for affordable housing, especially for marginalized people seeking to improve their living conditions.”

Along with providing affordable housing solutions, the partnership also will also support the construction or improvement of community centers, education centers and facilities for elderly residents and those living with a physical disability. This continues previous partnership work around social projects that, for example, supported construction of a hostel allowing family members to visit autistic relatives in Hungary.

“We are incredibly thankful for the donated materials from Wienerberger that will help lower the cost of housing for hundreds of families,” said Rick Hathaway, Habitat’s vice president for Europe and the Middle East. “But this partnership goes far beyond that, as Wienerberger will continue to help Habitat shine a light on large gaps in affordable housing while also applying its technical expertise to help low-income families and those facing special challenges related to housing.”

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity found its earliest inspirations as a grassroots movement on an interracial community farm in south Georgia. Since its founding in 1976, the Christian housing organization has grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit habitat.org.

About Wienerberger
The Wienerberger Group is an international provider of smart solutions for the entire building envelope and for infrastructure. Wienerberger, the world’s largest producer of bricks (Porotherm, Terca), also is a major producer of roof tiles (Koramic, Tondach), concrete pavers (Semmelrock), and pipe systems (Steinzeug-Keramo ceramic pipes and Pipelife plastic pipes). With its total of 215 production sites, the Wienerberger Group generated revenues of EUR 4.0 billion and sales growth of EUR 671 million in 2021.


Bulgaria falls into the category of extreme energy poverty, according to the European Domestic Energy Poverty Index (EDEPI). „Social network“, Nova News

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В “Социална мрежа” по NOVA NEWS Ася Добруджалиева, мениджър проекти в Хабитат България, представи кампанията “Достъп до енергийно обновяване”, която цели да информира обществото за проблемите свързани с енергийна бедност, както и начините да се справим с нея.

Тя изведе основните причини България да е сред страните в ЕС попадащи в категорията за екстремна енергийна бедност. На първо място като причина за енергийната бедност са ниските доходи, следват високите разходи за енергийни услуги, на трето място са качеството на жилищата, които обитаваме, тяхната енергийна ефективност, доколко жилищата пазят топлината.

“Кампанията не може да помогне пряко на потребителите, но е нужна комбинация от решения и действия, взети от управляващите, и същите от самите хора”, споделя в интервюто Ася Добруджалиева.

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ЛИНК КЪМ ВИДЕО >> България е една от трите страни в ЕС, попаднали в категорията “екстремна енергийна бедност”

или

ЛИНК КЪМ ВИДЕО >> България води класация за енергийна бедност в ЕС


Bulgarian textile insulation saves harmful emissions and money. „Inovativno“, BNT2

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The project for the development of an industrial facility for the production of thermal insulation of recycled textiles supported by the VELUX Foundations, has been promoted by the Bulgarian National Television.

For the invented thermal insulation product, the company was honored with the Grand Invention of 2015 by the Union of Inventors in Bulgaria during the sixth National Exhibition of Inventions, Transfer, Innovation ITI 2015.

Mincho Benov, National Director of Habitat Bulgaria, talks about why home textile insulation is greener and cheaper than traditional insulation.

 
 
 


Lets use biomass without cutting down forests

Снимка: WWF
News

The transition to a low-carbon economy can be achieved in a sustainable way.

Habitat Bulgaria joins the experts of WWF Bulgaria, starting joint work on a new project, guaranteeing the sustainable utilization of biomass without additional risks of deforestation. Through this project WWF is taking a step forward in its work on combating climate change. For years, the conservation organization has been promoting a gradual transition to a low-carbon economy, with biomass burning playing a major role. In it, WWF will work together with specialists from Romania and Hungary, as well as with partners from the Energy Agency of Plovdiv. Photo: WWF

Why is it important to find an alternative?
Existing energy production models present us with a number of risks, leading to compromises on air quality, destruction of natural habitats and growing energy poverty.

The problem of air pollution is becoming an increasingly sensitive topic in Bulgaria. Premature deaths in Bulgaria due to exposure to fine dust particles, nitrogen dioxide and ozone per 1 million inhabitants are among the highest in Central and Eastern Europe.

In addition to further deteriorating air quality, potentially increasing pressure on forests would mean a severe blow to biodiversity. According to the 2020 WWF Living Planet report „Jiva Planeta“ the world’s vertebrate population has shrunk by 68% in less than half a century. That is why the maintenance of living forests, which are an important part of terrestrial animal habitats, is particularly important.

At the same time, in rural areas and small towns in Bulgaria, the consumption of firewood is often combined with energy poverty. Surveys show that over 1/3 of Bulgarians cannot keep their homes warm enough.

“Forests have a positive effect on the climate by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. While the combustion of forest biomass can have a negative impact due to the release of significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Science is unanimous that in terms of emissions, the use of residual biomass is a better option than fossil fuels. But we cannot afford to cut down forests indiscriminately, because achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, which is the EU’s great goal, goes through increasing forest areas, and hence the carbon sequestration capacity. Stricter national criteria for biomass utilization are needed in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, where a significant increase in the use of biomass for energy needs is expected in the next 10 years.”, said Georgi Stefanov, Head of Climate and Energy Practice at WWF.

What will WWF do?

Following consultations with energy and forestry stakeholders and building on the good practices from the region, WWF will develop recommendations for the introduction of stricter national criteria for the sustainable use of biomass. EU countries are obliged to review their climate plans for 2030 in 2023 and their long-term climate strategies for 2050 in 2025. Since part of the problems leading to air pollution and energy poverty cannot be addressed through legislative criteria, WWF also offers the following solutions:

1) creation of knowledge sharing centers

Online platforms will be developed where municipalities, local citizens and businesses can share their practical experience on how they have reduced biomass use or energy consumption. In this way, the best practices with the potential to be implemented on a large scale can be gathered.

2) demonstration of solutions feasible at the local level

There are no solutions in Central and Eastern Europe aimed at the dependence of energy-poor households on firewood. Therefore, such households from Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary will be able to apply for a program with a total budget of 100,000 euros to demonstrate feasible solutions at the local level.

3) aiding municipalities

The collected good practices and experience will be selected in a special set of tools to help municipalities. It will be available in Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian and English language.

The LIFE Bio-Balance project is funded by the LIFE Climate Management and Information Program. It will build on the results achieved by the Bio Screen project, implemented with the support of the German Federal Ministry of the Environment and the EUKI programme.

Contact:
Georgi Stefanov, Head of Climate and Energy Practice, WWF, tel: 0889 517 976, email: gstefanov@wwf.bg


Bulgarian homes – often overcrowded, energy inefficient and too expensive

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Interview by Gergana Mancheva with Mincho Benov, national director of Habitat Bulgaria, Radio Bulgaria – BNR. Photo: BGNES

Even during a crisis, when Bulgarians have limited their spending to basic things like food, fuel and heating, interest in new housing has not dropped. However, most of the newly built homes remain uninhabited for a long time. The reason is that many homeowners simply invest their savings in property as an alternative to no-interest bank deposits. This leads to the paradox that despite the great growth of construction, many Bulgarians continue to live in overcrowded homes and usually do not invest in energy efficiency improvements.

Most households do not have a steady income and cannot afford a loan to buy a new home. According to Eurostat, over 41% of Bulgarians live in overcrowded homes. In comparison, the EU average is 17 percent.

The problem with overcrowded housing is even more noticeable in our cities, where 50 percent live in a limited space, according to a study by Habitat Bulgaria NGO. Recently, representatives of the Bulgarian representation of the organization Habitat for Humanity, which helps millions of people to improve their living conditions, joined the European Housing Forum, dedicated to the problems caused by the Covid crisis and global climate change.

“The pandemic has shown how important housing is in order to live a fulfilling life and in order for children to be able to study at home,” Mincho Benov, national director of Habitat Bulgaria said.

“Housing in Bulgaria usually offers twice as less living space in comparison to Western European countries and overcrowding makes things even worse. Imagine how a child could study in an overcrowded home. On the other hand, this situation shows another problem – the energy poverty of thousands of Bulgarian households. According to estimates of the institutions that calculate such indices, this country falls into the category of extreme energy poverty. I mention the connection with the pandemic because children are at home all day and the households have to be heated all the time. Elderly people, who used to go to public places to stay warm and reduce their heating costs, could not continue to do so because of the lock-downs.”

On the other hand, unoccupied housing stock in this country is an old and serious problem. More than 30% of the habitable homes in Bulgaria are deserted. “This is due to the lack of maintenance of the buildings and this way a huge resource is lost. With good management it could help solve a number of issues,” Mincho Benov says.

“The need for renovation of the housing stock is urgent. When it comes to total energy consumption, homes have a share of well over 40% and this is a major factor when it comes to clean air, carbon emissions, etc. In addition, improving the energy efficiency of homes is a way for households experiencing energy poverty to reduce their heating costs. The problem is not related just to segregated neighborhoods that burn tires, textiles, shoes and whatever they find, but it is a problem for everyone who use wood for heating. We wonder why heating subsidies go for the purchase of coal and wood. Is there nothing else that can be applied more rationally? Why do we keep investing in air pollution every year through social assistance?”

English text: Alexander Markov

Read more: Bulgarian homes – often overcrowded, energy inefficient and too expensive

Listen the interview here: Жилището на българина – често пренаселено, енергийно неефективно и непосилно скъпо