In Valjevo 20 families moved into the newly constructed social housing building with the support of the European Union

June 19, 2024

Valjevo, 19 June 2024  - Today, as part of the "European Union Support to Social Housing and Active Inclusion" programme, 20 families belonging to the most vulnerable social groups moved into the new social housing building in Valjevo. For 58 beneficiaries, who lived in inadequate conditions, new, fully equipped apartments were provided within the project, which will significantly contribute to improving their quality of life. 

"It is an honour for me that today, 20 families from Valjevo are moving into their new, fully equipped apartments. This is very significant not only for these families but also for our community as a whole", said the Mayor of Valjevo, Lazar Gojković, adding that, "The City of Valjevo, as a socially responsible city, has worked on improving social inclusion of vulnerable social groups through this project and shows that it is an environment that affirms tolerance, respect for human rights, care for vulnerable social groups, and solidarity". 

The project "My New Home", implemented by the City of Valjevo in cooperation with the Center for Social Work "Kolubara" and the Center for Roma Integration in Valjevo, aims to contribute to the strengthening of capacities for social inclusion of the most vulnerable social groups, through the provision of adequate housing solutions, as well as complementary active inclusion measures, tailor-made to meet the needs of every individual. 

“The EU is proud to have supported the construction of these apartments in Valjevo – which is one of the nine locations where new homes were built for families in vulnerable situation. Social inclusion is a long and demanding path but it is the only path for a cohesive, strong and fair society where everyone’s rights are equally respected. This is why under this project implemented by UNOPS, in close partnership with the national and local authorities, we do not only provide social housing but also additional supportive measures – like education and trainings. In the spirit of our ongoing campaign ‘Evropa je naša kuća’, I wish the families a lot of happiness in their new homes and under the roof of our joint efforts for a more inclusive society in our common European home”, said Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Serbia, Plamena Halacheva. 

Recognising the importance of such initiatives for sustainable social development, and reducing inequalities and social exclusion, the European Union has allocated EUR 830,000 for the social housing and active inclusion project in Valjevo, while the contribution of the City of Valjevo amounts to EUR 216,000. 

“I am delighted to be here today to see the concrete results of our common efforts that will secure a home, a new life and a future for 20 families. It is a day of joy and celebration, thanks to the strong support from all national institutions, the European Union, and the city of Valijevo for the realisation of this social housing project”, said the Director of the UNOPS Serbia Multi-Country Office, Michela Telatin. 

“Despite these achievements, needs for social housing remain high in the country and as UNOPS we remain committed to continue working with Serbian institutions, the EU,  to support vulnerable citizens”, she added. 

“This building is a symbol of the responsible social policy that the state pursues towards all citizens, especially those in vulnerable categories of the population. A special significance of this project is that, in addition to the construction of housing units, active inclusion measures are planned," said Dalibor Nakić, President of the National Council of the Roma National Minority.

Within the EU SHAI programme, 360 families belonging to the most vulnerable social groups will be supported through social housing and active inclusion projects. In Valjevo, the project provided support for 13 Roma families, five families of women victims of domestic violence and two families of youth leaving the social care system. 

"Through joint efforts, we are working to improve and include all marginalised groups in all social spheres in the Republic of Serbia. This is very important because by providing appropriate housing solutions, we ensure the future and prosperity for the most vulnerable categories of the population, such as women victims of violence and children," emphasised Assistant Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Nina Mitić. 

"We can freely say that the Ministry of Labor, Veterans' Affairs, and Social Protection has a fundamental significance for maintaining social stability and the well-being of all citizens, through the implementation of comprehensive policies and programs that ensure security and support for all members of our society", said Nemanja Starović, Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans' Affairs, and Social Protection.

"Such a comprehensive program represents an example of successful and effective action in overcoming social problems. In the future, the Ministry will strive to be an active participant in such programs, and I certainly welcome these forms of cooperation," he added.

To provide adequate support, which will contribute to the sustainability of the project, the beneficiaries are supported through a set of active inclusion measures. The measures include the provision of furniture and household appliances, support in employment and self-employment, and income generating tools and equipment. In addition, beneficiaries attend various professional development trainings, while children and young people are provided with support in education. As part of the active inclusion measures, beneficiaries also received psychosocial support and preventive medical check-ups. 

"When working on large infrastructure projects, we often forget about people, and the essence of a developed society is to provide its citizens with a better quality of life. The maturity of a society is measured by how much it cares for the most vulnerable - victims of violence, members of marginalized groups, women, the elderly... People often find themselves in a state of social need against their will. The readiness of society to extend a helping hand, to help them feel like equally important members of the community, and how much we care for the most vulnerable, shows that we are a mature society," said Goran Vesić, Minister of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure.

Since the beginning of the implementation of the Programme, eight multi-family social housing buildings have been constructed and over 100 reconstructed and adapted in 22 cities and municipalities across Serbia. In addition, five infrastructure projects have been implemented, aimed at improving the living conditions in substandard settlements in Serbia.  

"This support means a lot to me, for the whole family, especially for the children who attend additional educational workshops and receive help from a speech therapist. The entire project is changing our lives, and now we will live much easier and better," said Adam Maksuti, a project beneficiary in Valjevo.

The keys to the new apartments were handed over by The Mayor of Valjevo, Lazar Gojković, the Minister of Construction, Transport, and Infrastructure, Goran Vesić, the Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Nemanja Starović, the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Plamena Halacheva, the President of the National Council of the Roma National Minority, Dalibor Nakić, and the Director of the UNOPS Multi-Country Office in Serbia, Michela Telatin.

About the Programme 

The European Union has allocated EUR 27 million for the "EU Support to Social Housing and Active Inclusion" programme, and in addition to Valjevo, social housing and active inclusion projects are being implemented in 18 other cities and municipalities in Serbia, in addition to Valjevo. As part of this program, 360 families will receive a roof over their heads, and over 1,000 beneficiaries will be supported through active inclusion measures. The Programme is implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). 

Photo: UNOPS/Sanja Knežević