The “Guidelines for the improvement and legalization of informal Roma settlements”
provide solutions for ways in which local self-governments (municipalities and cities, and in the further text we will use the term “municipality”) have to approach this issue. These Guidelines do not have a legal but a technical character, and they rely on the valid legislative system, a.i. the relevant laws, sub laws and regulations. The Guidelines are also based on the conclusion of two conferences: “Towards a new national housing policy in Serbia” and “Legalization and improvement of Roma settlements and housing”.

Solutions that stand out from this text can largely be of direct assistance to the improvement of other informal settlements, not only the Roma ones. In other words, the Roma are not the only ones that have illegally or informally constructed their homes and settlements. Problems concerning many informal settlements are related to the problems of Roma settlements. The difference is mainly in the fact that Roma settlements are additionally overwhelmed with discrimination that caused their exclusion from the urban system.

Thoughts expressed here with regard to the organization of the Roma settlements should not be understood like the desire to create some type of “Roma urbanism”, “Roma city Construction of Roma cities” and so on. Practical reasons exist that have lead to the conclusion that initial attention needs to be paid to these settlements rather that to some other informal groupings in our cities. There are three direct reasons for the elaboration of these guidelines:

• Many Roma settlements are the most miserable parts of our cities. Although they are not the only informal settlements, although they are by size smaller than other informal settlements, they are because of poverty and discrimination in the worst position, and living is the hardest in them;

• The solution to the problems of the existing Roma settlements and to Roma housing is part of a unique national Action Plan for the general improvement of the position of the Roma which was adopted by the Government of Serbia;

• Roma settlements are the most analyzed segment of informal settlements in Serbia. It provides a background of expertise for the development of the Guidelines. Without this basis of knowledge which has been created during the past decade and a half, it would be hard to imagine successful work on the improvement and legalization of Roma settlements.

The whole document is available here.

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