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Social Sustainability in post-communist countries

Posted on 18-09-2023

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During my secondment at CERANEO, I gained valuable knowledge about housing needs in Croatia and about the causes and effects of homelessness together with the various programs and interventions that can be used to prevent and reduce homelessness. I also learned about advocacy and how to collaborate with civil society organizations to achieve social change.


I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with such dedicated and passionate people, like Mr. Zvonko Mlinar (Croatian Network for the Homeless), Professor Olja Druzic Ljubotina (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, Department of Social Work) and Maja Bukovšak (Croatian National Bank).

In the case of the Croatioan Network for the Homeless, I had an insight into the work of the network. I saw the “different faces” of homelessness and how the network continues to advocate for the rights of homeless people and to promote policies that will improve their lives. Hopefully, Housing First can be proven effective in Croatia, helping homeless people find and maintain permanent housing.


My visit to the Croatian National Bank was useful for my macro investigations. I familiarized myself with statistics and different studies (about relevant provisions, and loan schemes that are/were unique or highly relevant) that can help my work. I checked out and discussed the proportion of housing loans compared to GDP (total outstanding residential loans to GDP ratio), also, I looked for information about existing subsidies, the number of transactions per year, and the characteristics of the system of housing finance. (We discussed questions, such as: Is there a relevant difference between the number of “investment” loans - and the number of traditional housing loans? What are your thoughts about the relevance of spatial inequalities in the country? What do you think of the importance of Euro? Is there a correlation between housing loans and housing costs? Who is the main target group of housing loans?  What do you think about the role and consequences of inflation these days? What do you think about the risk of people not paying back loans?  Do you see significant patterns in building permits/housing completions? Is there an estimation for new constructions? And so on.)


During my stay in Zagreb, I explored the possibility of making a comparative study between Croatia and Hungary. My specific interest lies with social sustainability in these post-communist countries, where homeownership is a dominant form of housing tenure (it is accepted as a social norm), while adequate housing is unaffordable to more and more people. It is interesting to see (historically) how Croatia and Hungary succeeded/failed in “regulating” the market, noting special "cracks" in their systems.



Altogether this secondment completes my previous secondments nicely. I like the way CERANEO is working on projects with a focus on trends in social development, such as poverty and unemployment, and monitoring the provision of social services, such as housing and healthcare. I honestly believe that housing and healing (care) have a close connection and it is timely to investigate and critically reflect on the contested provisioning of these two sectors. CERANEO and the Croatian Network for the Homeless are making a real difference in the lives of homeless people in Croatia. I commend them for their work, and I encourage them to continue to fight for the rights of homeless people.


Finally, I would very much like to thank Professor Bežovan and Marko Horvat for making my stay worthwhile with their constant support and productive help.

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