fields still open, families on the street and 300 new mini settlements

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A closed field, only one out of eleven, and two where operations are underway. Few, very few, families who have found alternative housing and employment thanks to the Capitol. All in two and a half years of time and at the estimated cost of around 10 million euros of public funds. Meantime 300 mini slums they grew on the territory in 2019 only. Here they are, i merciless numbers of the Roma plan, the one launched by the junta Raggi in May 2017 with the promise of “go through the fields and bring Rome back to Europe”. To reject it across the board, the 21 July association, a non-profit organization that has been committed for years to defending the rights of the Roma community. Today the presentation of the report to the Chamber “Where the crumbs remain”, dense dossier that takes stock of the results achieved by the administration on the subject, recording a gap still to be bridged between promises and real actions.

In two and a half years, the goals achieved by the application of the plan are judged to be largely below the mark. It was to concern the eleven equipped villages scattered over the Roman territory, but only one settlement has been closedand badly, the River Camping on the via Tiberina. Dismantled in July 2018 with bulldozers after a process of inclusion of the families that, according to the data provided by the association, has ensured a housing accommodation for only 12% of the population of the field, was to serve as a test bed for the entire floor. A bad start. To date, a tender procedure is open for the awarding of services to overcome the maxi field of Castel Romano. While in the slums La Bearded, on the border with Ciampino, e Monachina, in the thirteenth town hall, operations have been underway for a year. In both the Italian Red Cross operates, a regular custodian through a call. But the process of escape of the inhabitants, by the same admission of the operators, interviewed by the association July 21, proceeds slowly.

Who has found alternative accommodation

First problem: finding new accommodation for those who leave the containers. The plan is rotated from the beginning around a key solution: the rental of houses on the private real estate market with an economic contribution of up to 800 euros per month from the public body. A house voucher, which however was paid in a small number of cases, 12 in total and only in the Camping River according to the data of 21 July. No checks in La Barbuta and Monachina, because finding a home from a private person for a Roma family is a really difficult undertaking.

The same Capitol admits it in a passage of a letter sent by the Roma, Sinti and Caminanti office to the Social Policies commission where we talk about “few guarantees that the Rsc citizen (Roma, sinto and caminante ed) offers, occasional and precarious work, informal activities, intermittent income, which would not allow anyone to assure private tenants the regular payment of the rent, even in the face of a three-year contribution from the administration provided for in the Plan “. In short, a flop also for the guarantor. A number contained in the dossier speaks enough: after a year of activity in La Barbuta, out of 62 real estate agencies contacted, only 3 made themselves available to a partnership agreement for the search for private accommodation.

Alternatives? THE assisted voluntary returns, not present in the original version of the Roma plan but included later in the tender for the award of services in Castel Romano. Used in the case of the Camping River to speed up the procedures, as reported in the file of July 21, half of the 12 families involved would then have returned to Italy. “Through monitoring activities – reads the dossier – it appears that about half of them have returned to Italy because the housing and work projects in the places of destination have never really started”.

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Public housing, one way

The road most traveled by families who decide to leave the field remains that of the public housing. However, it is outside the Roma plan: those who get a home today through the regular scrolling of the rankings, applied at least two, three years ago. In La Barbuta, it is written in the report, 21 households have so far been the recipients of housing in Public Residential Construction (ERP). “The interviews carried out showed that the assignment of” social housing “is the only mechanism currently used of the range provided by the Plan to find a housing solution for the residents of the settlements” but “usable by any citizen in a housing emergency, who delivers the actual results by nature, and in most cases, only after a medium-long period of time”. In short, the only tool that works is not part of the Rays plan.

Work and schooling: the data of the flop

It is no better on the employment front. Indeed, it is precisely here that according to July 21, “there are the most obvious failures”. How to help the inhabitants to enter the world of work? The Capitol has foreseen the start of training courses and traineeships, in addition to the creation of individual companies, cooperatives, and economic contributions to support members. But the numbers speak clearly: there were only 15. Zero training in Monachina, at least until mid-2019, and training courses and internships activated within the projects in the La Barbuta settlement. And yet, we read in the dossier, “there is no indication that the creation of cooperatives and individual firms has been promoted, as this action is strictly connected with the documentary regularity of the individual persons / families and with the economic situation”.

As for the school sector, the figures collected do not reassure. “Comparing the total numbers of presences and minors enrolled in compulsory school in the two-year period 2016-2017 – is explained in the report – annuality on which the principles contained in the Plan were based, and the same in the year 2019 there is a total decrease in presences in the settlements considered of 1,245 units (-27%) 90 which, however, corresponds to a decrease in members more than double the compulsory school, equal to 56% “.

The escape from the fields: illegal settlements and evictions are growing

The perhaps worst data that emerges, and which confirms in all respects the failure to date of the Roma plan by Raggi, concerns informal settlements. From the “traditional” fields, now abandoned without management of internal services and constantly torn by internal tensions, families leave independently. Whether the plan is being implemented or not. But they don’t do that move to small informal slums, which are increasing in the city.

If in fact in 2017 the number of people surveyed in the so-called “informal” was around 1,200 units, in the 2019 census it was possible to register a 66% increase (according to data cited by the Ministry of the Interior). “In the absence of migratory flows outside the city, the number of Roma has increased to 2,000 with an increase of 800 units”. More than 300 units in 2019 alone. Families mostly “parked” on the street, for decades residing in the mega fields of the capital, now emptied but not thanks to a plan of overcoming and inclusion implemented by the Municipality of Rome. It would rather be an uncontrolled and autonomous flow. A real uncontrolled transfer that has nothing to do with the promises of inclusion of the municipal plan.

So what happens? Those who can apply for access to “social housing” and are waiting, those who do not make it run outside looking for the solution outside. But only for a few this translates into the purchase of land or the rental of a property.

A total numerical drop of 27% with a decrease in attendance of 1,245 units, only partly due to the closure of the Camping River, which took place in the summer of 2018, with the escape of about 400 people. The settlement in which the largest numerical contraction is recorded is that of Castel Romano, which went from 1,062 units in 2016 to 542 units in 2019, followed by the “village” of Salone with a passage from 607 to 360 people.

Other immediately consequent data: the increase in forced evictions. From May 31, 2017, the day of presentation of the Plan to November 30, 2019, the Association July 21 registered 104 forced evictions of informal settlements, for a total expenditure estimated at around 3,300,000 euros of public money. Yes, public money, another chapter subject to observations and clarifications.

With what funds was the Roma plan paid?

“That of the Roma camps – had assured Beppe Grillo, then head of the 5 Star Movement, the day after the presentation of the Plan – it was a matter that no one had ever closed, perhaps not even dealt with, but on which many (too many) have magnated. From now on we start to close them, forever. And we get the money to do it from the European Union, no extra cost for the Romans “. The day before, in the press conference presenting the Plan, the mayor had assured that for the overcoming of the settlements, the Administration would draw on dedicated European funds. Yes, but only for the first two camps, Barbuta and Monachina precisely, for which they were used 3 million and 800 thousand euros from the PON Metro fund intercepted in 2014 by the Board led by the mayor Ignazio Marino. And anyway they weren’t enough. Here are the figures spent by the municipal budget.

Both for the project to overcome the Camping River (1,270,000 euros), and for the “village” of Castel Romano (1,826,000 euros plus 1,500,000 euros for economic contributions), and for the opening and management of the Roma “collection center” in via dei Codirossoni (1,030,000 euros) the expected expenditure commitment would weigh on the municipal budget. As well as the costs for the collection of waste in the settlements (with an average of 1,500,000 euros per year), for the reclamation of the settlements (with an average of 1,600,000 euros) per year, for the chemical toilets (with an average of 115,000 euros per year). In total, according to the figures provided by the Municipality to the European Commission Agency, it would be about 6 million euros declared, according to the data collected from 21 July spending would be around 10 million.

The appeal to the Capitol

In short, the package of policies put in place to manage the “Roma issue” is a failure on several fronts. A series of actions that resulted in public spending with almost no results. For July 21st to be stopped as soon as possible: “We ask for a halt to future planned actions to allow the establishment of a city table in a short time where, in a dialogue with the different realities operating in the slums and the people who live there, you can re-read the actions of the Plan”.

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