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Rapid health impact appraisal of eviction versus a housing project in a colony-dwelling Roma community

Abstract

Background: During implementation of a community development project involving a severely disadvantaged Roma community, the community was threatened with eviction. Two scenarios, eviction with placement on the waiting list for social housing versus a replacement housing development, were identified and specified. A health impact assessment (HIA) was carried out to inform subsequent negotiations.

Aims: To assess the health effects of eviction in comparison with that of a housing project for a Roma community; to make recommendations on short-term and long-term benefits of the two scenarios in order to inform the local government; and to develop a demonstration HIA that can act as a model for other disadvantaged Roma populations.

Method: A prospective assessment, based on a broad model of health, was carried out to assess health effects of a housing project compared with eviction. By design, it ensured full involvement of members of the community, local decision makers and relevant stakeholders.

Results and conclusion: This HIA identified numerous positive and some probable negative health effects of a housing project. Despite the uncertainty around some of its predicted effects, the overall health benefit of a housing project clearly outweighed that of eviction. Although the immediate financial advantages of eviction for the municipal government are clear, this example provides further evidence to support the adoption of a statutory requirement to assess both economic and health outcomes. It also provides an example that other Roma communities can emulate.

  • Gypsies
  • Roma
  • eviction
  • health effect assessment
  • housing
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