The “Homeless” and Co-operative Development: Economic Aspects of the Housing Policies in Sofia in the Interwar Period Cover Image
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The “Homeless” and Co-operative Development: Economic Aspects of the Housing Policies in Sofia in the Interwar Period
The “Homeless” and Co-operative Development: Economic Aspects of the Housing Policies in Sofia in the Interwar Period

Author(s): Veronika Dimitrova
Subject(s): Social history, Family and social welfare, Socio-Economic Research
Published by: Centre for Advanced Study Sofia (CAS)
Keywords: housing policy; city; poverty; ownership; interwar period; co-operative construction

Summary/Abstract: The period after the First World War was marked by the establishment of housing policies in Europe, in response to the postwar housing crisis. Due to technological transformations and pressure from construction companies, construction prices after the war were extremely high. Thus, housing policy implementation necessitated a considerable increase in budget expenditure. In Bulgaria, this was complicated by severe budget constraints. Understanding housing policies in Bulgaria can help identify practices and challenges linked to the implementation of welfare policies in a financially challenging context. The aim of this study was to summarize the first housing policies, coined in Bulgaria and Sofia during the interwar period (1918-1939), focusing on economic aspects, financial tools and incentives within these policies. The used methods are discourse analysis and analysis of documents. The main sources include: legislation on the homelessness issue and the debate thereon; legislation related to construction sites and urban development; Municipal Council meeting records; reports of the architectural and cadastral departments of Sofia Municipality; the archives of the Directorate of Sovereign Debt and the archives of the Bulgarian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank, journal articles etc. Our findings indicate that two of the most significant developments in this area were in land allocation and cooperative housing construction. Land allocation refers to the process under which the State obliged municipalities to sell to the homeless land, which they had already illegally begun to use. This lead to the establishment of homeless people' ownership rights in 1929, and was accompanied by the creation of financial mechanisms for the sale of municipal property, in an effort to diversify municipal funding and ease budgetary difficulties. This mechanism was very hard to introduce, due to resistance from the municipalities, which feared it would eventually lead to further land development expenditures. The early cooperative construction movement involved credits for construction of private homes. It was state-funded and was aimed at providing housing for the homeless and poor. While in theory it was planned as a sustainable mechanism, with funds being refilled by returned credits, it was unsuccessful, because most of the debts weren’t paid back by the poor, and the fund was depleted very quickly.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 9
  • Page Range: 1-47
  • Page Count: 47
  • Language: English