What is social housing?
Social housing in Bulgaria consists of municipally owned dwellings let to particularly needy people, and represents about 3% of the total housing stock in the country. Housing policies include also measures supporting households withutility payment (meant for both - the rental and owner occupiedsector) covered by state budget, as well as assistance to homeowners through subsidies for purchase and renovation of dwellings.
Who provides social housing?
The Ministry of Regional Development and Public works is responsiblefor housing policy at the national level. Municipalities ownand manage the public rental stock, which is diminishing progressively. The framework document regulating housing policyin Bulgaria is the National Housing Strategy adopted by the Councilof Ministers in 2005. As a follow-up to the National Housing Strategy,the government has been working on a draft Housing AssociationLaw which should regulate the founding and operation of non-profitorganizations for construction and management of social rentedhousing. At the moment, this law exists in a preliminary draft elaboratedby the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Works.
How is social housing financed?
The state has withdrawn from funding housing provision, whichis now a responsibility of municipalities which suffer from a chronic shortage of funds. They have very limited possibilities tomaintain their existing stock, and there has been no investmentin the construction of new public housing for almost two decades.Furthermore, municipalities have been selling the existing stock (saleto sitting tenants is allowed, according to administrative procedure).
Who can access social housing?
Municipalities allocate available dwellings on the basis of waitinglists. Criteria for the application for public housing include thatapplicants do not own real estate, have not made transactionswith properties, have had a permanent address registration in thesettlement for the last five years, do not have bank deposits andother properties, and 25% of their annual income cannot coverany rent on the free market. The allocation process is targeted athouseholds with special needs: orphans, disabled, chronically ill,elderly and single parents. Tenants in ‘restituted’ dwellings (seeglossary) have priority.
In June 2011, the Government announced EU Structural Fundssubsidised programme for energy efficient renovation of existingmulti-storey condominium buildings. According to this, the apartmentowners participating in the programme could benefit up to50% of the renovation costs. This programme is expected to startits activities from 2012.