ENCOURAGING THE RETURN, STAY AND SETTLEMENT OF THE POPULATION IN THE ASSISTED AREAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA, UTOPIA OR DYSTOPIA?

The Act on Housing Care in Assisted Areas / OG 106/2018 / entered into force on January 1, 2019.

In addition to the assisted areas (defined by the Act on Regional Development), the new Act, due to the “continuity of initiated projects”, retained jurisdiction in the areas of special state concern (ASSC). Thus, the scope of the new legal provisions on housing care has been expanded to an additional 151 local government units, which in practice means that housing care measures are now implemented in 336 local government units – cities and municipalities – an increase of more than 80 percent. This is an extension of the territorial jurisdiction of the application of the Act itself.

The main goal of the Act on Housing Care in Assisted Areas / AHCAA / is to establish an efficient, effective and operational system of measures and activities that would result in encouraging the return, stay and settlement of the population in assisted areas, which contributes to demographic and economic development of these areas. The basic provision of Art. 1, paragraph 3 of the AHCAA, the right to housing care can be exercised by a natural person who resides in the area of ​​application of the AHCAA or wishes to settle in the area of ​​application of the Act.

The target groups for the implementation of the new law and its bylaws are families in need of housing, the most socially vulnerable groups, professionals, victims of domestic violence – as new target group, as well as persons who due to extraordinary circumstances such as floods, fires, landslides, earthquakes, and explosions are left without a single housing unit conditioned for housing.

At first, and because it would be logical, a conclusion could be drawn that the procedure of housing care through the above procedures is simplified, motivating and more flexible, but practice shows us something completely different.

An example from our practice is D.W., who is a young woman living in the vicinity of Rijeka. Her family consists of a sickly mother and an adult son. All three are citizens of the Republic of Croatia. They live in an old shack that was made for the workers of a company that went bankrupt about 40 years ago. Property-legal relations have not been settled at the barracks in question. Necessity and unfavorable living circumstances forced this woman to move into a barracks with her family as temporary accommodation. The living conditions are below the limits of humanity and the health and ultimately the life of the D.W. family is endangered.

D.W., as a self-conscious member of society, does not want to be a beneficiary of social welfare because she is a healthy and capable of work person. From the life story of D.W. we came to the realization that she was employed in a variety of places, from bakeries to restaurants to work in fish farms. She is currently unemployed and in the process of seeking employment. The only cash income is a guaranteed minimum compensation, social welfare, from the mother in the amount of HRK 920.00.

The client asked for help in resolving her housing status from her hometown, the Center for Social Welfare according to her place of residence, all the way to the President of the Republic. The road was thorny and unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the Croatian administration is callous and D.W. is just a number.

Since Rijeka is outside the area of ​​special state concern and does not enter the assisted areas, the advises given to D.W. are the submission of applications for housing within the legally prescribed period for four assisted areas of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County: Brod Moravice / is also an area of ​​special state concern /, Vrbovsko, Skrad and Mrkopalj.

But, unfortunately, there are no available housing units for these areas, although the beneficiary wants to settle in that area, more precisely in the area of ​​Mrkopalj.

Therefore, according to the above experience from 2020, more precisely given the lack of housing units in these assisted areas, the client should not apply for housing in these areas. Then the question arises in which areas to apply and how adequate these areas are for the client, because it turns out that they should submit applications for places where there are housing units, but then there will be more applicants, and some areas may not be suitable for these applicants…

When during the current year, a client realizes that there are no available housing units for the place for which she/he has applied, she/he can do nothing but have to wait for the next year, and the next year, the whole situation with housing care may change, etc.

It is obvious that the solution to housing is largely subject to luck or chance, because clients cannot know where the housing units are available.

It is clear from the specific case that the Act does not achieve the purpose – encouraging the settlement of the population in assisted areas, because someone wants to settle in assisted areas and apply for the same, but it may happen, as often happens in practice, that it is impossible to achieve housing for years, and probably never.

D.W. and other clients await uncertainty in the housing process and the question is how many years of waiting and helplessness will pass.

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