The way forward for reforms in the housing sector: empowering grass-root homeowners associations in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine

Our organization in cooperation with an international group of partners implements a project "The way forward for reforms in the housing sector: empowering grass-root homeowners associations in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine". The three-year project aims, through the establishment of 10 Technical Advisory Centres (TACs) to improve housing management and to promote energy efficiency refurbishment of residential buildings in the partner countries. The opening event will take place in late June 2015 in the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi.
In all countries involved, the housing sector is one of the primary concerns. Especially multi-storey apartment buildings, built as blocks, are in poor condition. The reasons for the large refurbishment backlog are manifold: inefficient housing administration, inadequate financial resources, lack of expertise and political support.

To overcome these obstacles the project has the following objectives:
● to promote housing management and energy-efficient refurbishment and also      barrier-free living in multi-storey apartment buildings
● to understand limitations and opportunities to implement energy efficient      measures in the housing stock in AZ, BY, GE, MD & UA
● to support the national housing reforms and to strengthen the civil society      organizations’ (CSOs) role as watchdog
● to implement capacity-building measures by trainings, workshops, seminars      and study tour
● to improve professionalism, organisational as well as institutional capacities of    CSOs, in order to respond to calls for proposals
● to improve the interaction between CSOs and authorities at the national,      regional and local level
● to encourage the CSOs to actively participate in policy-making processes      promoting the ideas of multi-level participatory governance and enabling      housing associations to become key stakeholders in development planning
● to strengthen the cooperation between German and international organizations

The project aims to support the residents often being the apartment owners, to organize an effective administration. Although in some partner countries, the residents have to organize the administration by law, in reality residential buildings are often managed by the state administration companies. But the work of these companies is a permanent point of criticism, as they often lack of transparency and qualified personnel.
This results in a great need for a strong system of information dissemination and technical assistance to help homeowners form and operate homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and to improve hereby their situation. HOAs need structure and a system of support if they are to be sustainable. For this purpose, it is necessary to establish and to strengthen TACs, which will support relevant target groups in order to improve and increase their knowledge on housing issues.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the field of housing sector (HOAs, social counseling centers, universities, etc.) can participate in a public tendering procedure and receive financial and technical assistance to establish or strengthen TACs.

Tasks and objectives of Technical Assistance Centres (TACs) are:
● to increase the knowledge and awareness of citizens about their rights in the property, principles and activities of homeowners’ associations (HOAs)
● to organize and conduct seminars and trainings on topics, such as the      establishment and running of HOAs
● to provide training for HOAs accountants
● to support the organization, implementation and participation (if necessary) of HOAs’ meetings
● regular telephone consultation hours "Hotline"
● individual consulting and training of local residents
● bundling of proposals from NGOs, HOAs in the development of recommendations for changes in legislation
● dissemination of best practices by HOAs in the partner towns