Habitat for Humanity Poland is a nonprofit housing organization which responds to poverty housing through various projects, including: construction of new houses, rehabilitation of apartments and residential facilities for vulnerable youth and adults, microloans, energy efficiency trainings, housing research and advocacy. It was founded in Gliwice in 1992 as the first Habitat for Humanity office in Europe and so far has helped more than 1300 families. It is part of Habitat for Humanity, a global network of nonprofit housing organizations working in approximately 70 countries. Habitat’s vision is of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
The HomeLab project in Poland combines rental housing support, employment services and social integration within a single institutional framework called a Social Rental Enterprise (Społeczna Agencja Najmu i Zatrudnienia). It addresses the issues of housing shortages/poverty and unequal work opportunities in Poland, testing the hypothesis that these issues are linked.
Polish social services in their current forms are not effectively integrating vulnerable groups in the labour and housing markets. The main goal of the pilot is to support the integration of services for individuals and families at risk of poverty and social exclusion, concentrating on these markets. The model of the Social Rental Enterprise will be pioneering a new response to identified social needs through providing integrated and tailored services. The Social Rental Enterprise will serve 40 households from vulnerable groups in Warsaw. Each will receive support related to housing, employment and social integration – delivered by Habitat Poland in partnership with community organizations, the private rental market and the City of Warsaw.
In order to operate and sustain the SRE a new vocation will be developed – a social rental specialist – combining rental administration and social work (in the form of employment services assistance and as a contact person for other services). This crucial role will assist clients in engaging in the job market and maintaining secure tenure. They will also ensure that clients are taking full advantage of social services available to them from the government e.g. housing allowances and public employment agencies. One social rental specialist will handle 13-15 clients over 2.5 years.