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Salutări din România

KEY STATISTICS

In 2010, an estimated 2.8 million Romanian migrants left the country with about 75% travelling to Spain, Italy and France where language similarities make learning another language much easier. Additionally, these countries offer a great deal of employment in the agricultural sector meaning that this type of economic migration is seasonal, with workers travelling back to Romania for the colder months. Construction is another major employment sector amongst male migrants. Female migrants are additionally employed in domestic services or caring for older people living in their own homes.
The majority of Romanian migrants leave in search of employment abroad and are typically aged between 15 and 64 years old. A recent survey showed that 23% of Romanian economic migrants went to countries where their relatives had settled or had local friends living in the area (16%), whilst 5% stated that they had a good local knowledge of the country and economic sector.

Working abroad is an important source of income for a significant part of the population and studies show that migrant households have a greater number of long-term assets than households with the same non-migrant socio-economic profile. This acts as a strong motivation for a person to go abroad to work, especially when he or she knows someone in that country and where having a model of success can be the deciding factor for an individual to leave for work abroad.

According to the National Bank of Romania, in 2013, Romanians working in Italy sent back home 925 million euros, followed by the ones in Germany with 595 million euros. United States of America, Sweden, France and Great Britain are the next destination countries of Romanians who send money back home. Accordingly, to economic department of the National Bank of Romania, Romanians working abroad can be split into three categories:

- Workers in the Mediterranean countries (Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece) that mainly do not have qualifications and receive small salaries
- Workers in Germany, France and Great Britain tend to have a form of qualification
- Workers in United States of America and Canada, the majority of them having a qualifications and higher studies

From these three categories, the later tend not to want to return to Romania and the remaining two, send part of their salaries back to family to come back to Romania. The first two categories use to send money home to build a house or to start a small business.

POLICY CONTEXT

The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection (MLFSP) is responsible for developing and implementing social policies and programmes as well as monitoring and assessing policy implementation. Other ministries involved in social policy are the Romanian Ministry of Development, Public Works and Housing, the National Disability Authority, the National Employment Agency and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Romanian Ministry of European Affairs monitors the implementation of the National Reform Programme (NRP) at the national level and coordinates the elaboration of the annual Action Plan for implementing it. The implementation of measures for poverty mitigation will be monitored by the MLFSP, based on information received from the implementing institutions.

SOCIAL HELP AVAILABLE IN ROMANIA

HOMELESSNESS

Although many in Romania believe that the phenomena started after 1989, homelessness was evident during the communist regime. At this time, they and other ‘anti- social elements’ were dealt with under the penal code and isolated in prisons, as well as mental health and other institutions.

There is no national data-collection strategy on the phenomena and very little data available – only general social inclusion indicators being available at national level. The only figures available come from a study conducted in 2004 by the Research Institute for Quality of Life and the National Institute of Statistics, which estimated that the number of roofless people in Romania at 14,000 -15,000 persons maximum, with 5,000 living in Bucharest.

According to a Romanian Ministry of Labour spokesperson for a 2013 Peer Review on homelessness in Denmark, in 2005 the Government committed to implementing a three-year national programme for the counties and municipality of Bucharest that would establish 50 shelters for homeless people. The programme was to be funded by the state and implemented through the National Interest Programme. By the end of November 2011, 55 centres had been established, however, adult services for people who had lost their homes are only being provided in 19 of the 41 counties and in only 26 cities. Remember, not all of these services provide shelter with many simply offering information and advice – it is unclear how many of these services still operate in 2014.

Between 1 January and 31 December 2011, 113,495 ‘marginalised persons’ were registered with the authorities of which:

- 41,085 did not own or rent a place to live
- 161,806 lived in inadequate conditions
- 10,604 were older people without legal guardians or care givers

According to Eurostat, in 2011, 17.1 % of the EU-28 population lived in overcrowded dwellings with the highest overcrowding rates registered in Romania (54.2 %).

There is no national integration strategy for people who have lost their homes in Romania, who have always been included as a general priority in anti-poverty policies, as they are considered a vulnerable group. Following Government Decision (197/2006), a National Interest Programme (NIP) was launched with the aim of combating social exclusion through creating emergency social centres. Importantly, the Government provided a definition of ‘homelessness’ for the first time through Law 292/2011 on the National System of Social Assistance.

In addition, the Romanian Government has provided a definition of homelessness through Law 292/2011 on the national system of social assistance, which amended Law 47/2006. The definition of a homeless person is ‘someone represented in a social category formed by single people or families who, because of singular or cumulated reasons (social, medical, financial, economic or legal) or because of force majeure, lives on the streets or with friends or acquaintances and is unable to sustain a rented house or is threatened with eviction, or lives in institutions or prisons and is due to be released within two months and lacks a domicile or residence.’

In 2005, the Government committed to implementing a three-year national programme for the counties and municipality of Bucharest that would establish 50 shelters for homeless people. The programme was to be funded by the state and implemented through the National Interest Programme. By the end of November 2011, 55 centres had been established. However, adult services for people who had lost their homes are only being provided in 19 of the 41 counties and in only 26 cities. Not all of these services provide shelter with many simply offering information and advice - it is unclear how many of these services still operate in 2014. NGO service providers consider that the supply is insufficient to meet the demand.

The Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection (MLFSP) is responsible for developing and implementing social policies and programmes as well as monitoring and assessing policy implementation. Other ministries involved in social policy are the Romanian Ministry of Development, Public Works and Housing, the National Disability Authority, the National Employment Agency and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Romanian Ministry of European Affairs monitors the implementation of the National Reform Programme (NRP) at the national level and coordinates the elaboration of the annual Action Plan for implementing it. The implementation of measures for poverty mitigation will be monitored by the MLFSP, based on information received from the implementing institutions.

To qualify for social support from the County Council and local authority, a person has to prove a local connection, i.e. their identification document shows the person’s address as being in the area where support is being requested. Services provided by NGOs do not necessarily employ the same condition unless they are being funded by a County Council or local authority.

Despite what appears in official reports, in practice there is a huge lack of services for people experiencing homelessness. The principal support for homeless people is emergency night shelter generally provided by the County Councils and a handful of NGOs across the country followed by financial aid.

BENEFITS

Financial benefits
Minimum income guarantee
One universal allowance is available to families and individuals that can be claimed without having to prove a local connection - ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’. If a family or an individual’s income does not exceed €122 per month, they can be entitled to financial aid as shown below:

Single person €32

Families of:
2 persons €57
3 persons €80
4 persons €99
5 persons €117

For any other additional members €8

Emergency help

In cases of hardship or difficulty, a person can claim a one-off allowance. The amount of money is established by the local authorities of each district, depending on the budget.

Family supplements
If a family (including single parent families) are caring for a child or young person under 18 years, and a parent’s income is less than a certain amount, they could be eligible of a monthly allowance as shown below,

Families where the income is less than €45

Two-parent families Single-parent families
with 1 child €18 with 1 child €24
with 2 children €37 with 2 children €48
with 3 children €55 with 3 children €72
with 4 children or more €73 with 4 children or more €95

Families where the income is between €46 & €118

Two-parent families Single-parent families
with 1 child €17 with 1 child €23
with 2 children €33 with 2 children €45
with 3 children €50 with 3 children €68
with 4 children or more €67 with 4 children or more €91

Child allowance

Child allowance is a universal monthly allowance given to all children who possess a birth certificate as follows:

Children under 2 or children with a disability under 3 €45

Children 2 or over or children with a disability who are 3 or over €9

Health insurance

In 1997, the Romanian Social Health Insurance Law was adopted aimed at the Bismark model with compulsory health insurance based on the principle of solidarity and operating in a decentralised system.

To obtain medical assistance, the patient must be contributing to the health system; otherwise, they are entitled only to 72 hours emergency treatment only. In practice, most Romanians contribute to the health system through formal work contracts, however many low skill jobs can only be found in the informal sector meaning that these employees are outside of the health care system.

Although health services are free to those who are insured, in practice patients are required to make informal payments if they are to receive the treatment they need.

Social housing

People experiencing homelessness are not on the priority list for social housing in Romania because in allocating public housing, local authorities are obliged to give priority to specific groups. Presently, this includes: young married couples (each under the age of 35 years); young people (over 18 years) leaving social care establishments; first and second- degree disabled persons and others with disability; pensioners; veterans and war widows(ers). Additionally, anyone who owned a house in the past and sold it (including those forced to sell because of mounting debts), are not entitled to local authority social housing.

HEALTHCARE

To qualify for social assistance and services in Romania, one has to prove a local connection. For some, this is difficult as they have informal rental agreements because proprietors will not agree to formal rental contracts. Consequently, the address on identifications documents are often old addresses, which if checked by a local authority will show that they no longer live there. For those who do not have support from the family, going back to Romania creates an increased risk of becoming or staying homeless. Besides a large shortfall in affordable housing, some districts in Bucharest do not provide emergency night shelters, even during the colder months.
If Romanian nationals do not make social contributions through their salaries, they are cut off from many of the social assistance benefits that they might have otherwise been entitled. There is a chronic lack of affordable housing in Romania with five-year waiting lists being a norm in Bucharest. Besides, homeless people are NOT a priority group when it comes to this type of housing.
Regarding the medical aspect, adults who do not have a legal working contract cannot be enrolled to a family doctor and are excluded from the health system except for emergency treatment. Although health services are free of charge to those who are insured, the reality is that medical procedures are unlikely without informal payments, which can be very expensive.
Other EU countries have actively recruited both health and social worker professionals meaning an acute ‘brain drain’ in these sectors in Romania.
A strong point in our social system is that local authorities can provide a housing allowance to help pay a family /single persons’ rent for up to a year for those who qualify. This is not without problems though, as beneficiaries will have to find a proprietor willing to sign an official rental contract for the full value of the rent.
An additional strong point is that money sent home by Romanian citizens working abroad provides financial stability for many thousands of households, many of which are situated in poor rural areas. For instance, the Romanian National Bank reported that Romanian citizens, who were living and working in Italy in 2013, sent a staggering 925 million euros to relatives and friends living in Romania.

SUPPORT OPTIONS FOR HOMELESS MIGRANTS

Romania is a ‘push’ or ‘sending’ country with very few migrants from the EU requiring social assistance or support. However, Romania is a ‘receiving’ country for undocumented migrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa due to Romania being an EU border country.

Inspectoratul General pentru Imigrări

CROSS BORDER ARRANGEMENTS

Presently, we are unaware of any formal cross border cooperation between Romanian public or private organisations and EU organisations. Casa Ioana has collaborated informally with the Barka Foundation with a small number of Romanian migrants who have requested social support in other EU countries. Casa Ioana has assisted with helping to find local solutions for Romanian migrants wanting to return home.

CASE STUDIES

M is a 48 years old male, who presented himself at Casa Ioana’s family shelter with his wife and two sons, 12 years and 26 years respectively. They had been rough sleeping for about a week after M lost his job and the family was evicted for non-payment of rent. The older son has a mental illness, which requires M’s wife being their son’s full time caregiver. The family’s income comprised of the younger son’s child allowance (€9 per month), the older son’s disability allowance €70 per month and the mother’s carer allowance (€135 per month). Prior to staying in Casa Ioana, M was working in the construction industry without a work contract. M had never attended school and was illiterate; a major barrier to obtaining full-time formal employment.

M faced other barriers to getting employment including his Roma ethnicity and lack of a formal work record that could prove his experience on the labour market. Finding work was essential, as he was the only family member that was eligible to work.

He decided to travel to Spain, where a friend promised to find him employment in the construction sector. M thought that because he would accept a lower salary than the local work force, he would find a job quickly. Despite warnings, including the fact that he did not speak Spanish, M left his family in Casa Ioana and travelled to Spain.
After arriving in Spain M met up with his friend who found him an informal job in construction. M was accommodated by his friend.

After three months, M developed heart problems, but only received emergency medical treatment because he was outside of the Spanish health system. His condition meant that he could only do light work and he was forced to stop working in the construction sector. His treatment was expensive and he found that his savings were running out quickly.

M unsuccessfully looked for other jobs, including a security guard and a cleaner person) and eventually his friend asked him to leave the accommodation because M was not contributing to the rent and food bills. He then became homeless and lived rough on the street.

Eventually M’s wife convinced him to return to Romania and he returned to Casa Ioana. On his arrival, he received emergency medical treatment for his heart condition with additional care being provided by another NGO. Shortly afterwards, M was assisted in finding a formal job in a restaurant with the minimum salary. Two months later, M and his family were ready to move on in their lives and the family rented an apartment.

FURTHER INFORMATION

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