23 families moved into the newly constructed social housing building in Šabac with the support of the EU

July 13, 2023

Today, 23 families have been moved into the newly constructed building for social housing in Šabac. The programme "European Union Support to Social Housing and Active Inclusion" (EU SHAI) provided fully furnished and equipped apartments for families belonging to the most vulnerable social groups.

The keys to the new apartments were handed over by the Mayor of Šabac Aleksandar Pajić, the Head of the First Department of Operations at the EU Delegation in Serbia Elvira Angulo Rodriguez, the Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue Tomislav Žigmanov, the State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs Lav Pajkić, the President of the National Council of the Roma national minority, Dalibor Nakić, and the representative of the UNOPS Serbia Multi-Country Office, Daliborka Kolar.

The event was opened by the Mayor of Šabac with words of gratitude to the partners who made the project possible.

Expressing his satisfaction that 70 citizens of Šabac will get a roof over their heads, Mayor Pajić emphasised that the citizens of Šabac are a priority. "It is precisely for this reason that we, together with the European Union, financed this project, which is worth over one million and one hundred thousand euros. Šabac allocated more than 250,000 euros from its budget, and the EU donated 850,000 euros. Today, the four most sensitive groups of the population are getting new homes, namely women victims of domestic violence, young people who are leaving the social protection system, Roma and persons with disabilities. We tried our best to make this project sustainable, and in that sense, we are organising training sessions, enabling self-employment, in short - enabling people to have their own piece of bread", Pajić said.

The representative of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Elvira Angulo Rodríguez, referred to the overall support of the European Union to the most vulnerable citizens of Serbia.

"Through the EU Support to Social Housing and Active Inclusion programme, worth 27 million euros, the European Union, together with its partners, provides sustainable housing solutions complemented by active inclusion measures for the most vulnerable population. The EU is the largest donor in Serbia in all areas, especially in social inclusion. In the last five years alone, the EU has donated and invested over 115 million euros to improve the living standards of the most vulnerable. But the amount of money is not important. What is important is that we implemented more than 60 projects with that money and improved the lives of more than 15,000 people across the country.''

Speaking about today's moving of 23 families into new apartments, the EU representative expressed her belief that a suitable home is the first step towards a better life.

"I feel privileged to share this moment with these families and to see how the European Union can have a direct and immediate impact on people's lives," Angulo Rodríguez added. She wished all beneficiaries a long and happy life in their new apartments.

Daliborka Kolar, the representative of the UNOPS Serbia Multi-Country Office, stated that UNOPS implements projects all over the world that strive to enable people to have a better life and the healthy and advanced development of countries. "This programme, in addition to social housing, also enables the active inclusion of beneficiaries in other 18 municipalities and cities throughout Serbia, and through it, 381 families, including these 23 families, will start a better life, which includes not only a roof over their heads, which is the basis of a healthy life but also includes a number of active inclusion measures like employment, self-employment, much better and more direct access to both health and social services and psychosocial support", Kolar concluded and finally highlighted the successful cooperation with local self-government, relevant ministries and the European Union, where everyone functioned as a harmonious team.

"The EU Support for Social Housing and Active Inclusion Program is the best indicator that the Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Roma is being implemented in the best way in the segment related to the provision of housing and communal conditions for members of the Roma national minority. This project also shows that Serbia is becoming a better place for life not only for Roma but also for citizens who belong to particularly vulnerable categories of the population", Dalibor Nakić, president of the National Council of the Roma National Minority, said and thanked the City of Šabac for allocating funds for this project and to the European Union for selfless donations for numerous projects aimed at the inclusion of Roma and the improvement of the position of the Roma community.

State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs Lav Pajkić pointed out that through the project one of the key life issues - the housing issue - was solved. "I think the beauty of this project lies in looking ahead, into the future, and that the idea of financial independence has been realised with adequate training," Pajkić added.

Minister Žigmanov pointed out that such a project shows that "Serbia is a country where social justice will be achieved". "The city of Šabac has shown a high sensitivity for achieving social justice, creating equal opportunities for those who for some reason are in a deprived, unequal position", Žigmanov concluded.

The beneficiary of the project, Jelena Đukanović, said that it is a great honor for her to have the opportunity to thank on her own behalf and on behalf of all the beneficiaries of the project in Šabac all the organisations involved in the project because they contributed to solving their housing issue. "We are here to justify the trust that was given to us because we were chosen as beneficiaries of these apartments. We owe a great deal of gratitude to the donors, the European Union, the administration of the City of Šabac and all the people who participated wholeheartedly in the realisation of this project. Thank you for the sensitivity shown for the vulnerable population, this left the strongest impression on me - the support for the people who needed this kind of help the most,'' Đukanović added in her address to the audience.

The European Union has allocated 27 million euros for the "EU Support to Social Housing and Active Inclusion" programme, which, in addition to Šabac, is implemented in 18 other cities and municipalities in Serbia. Within this Program, 381 families receive a roof over their heads and support in active inclusion. The programme is implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services - UNOPS.