In November ’19 ‘Gent knapt op’ honored the importance of this moment with a beautiful ceremony in Ghent Town Hall where all participants attended to sign their contract with the municipality to renovate their homes. This was a very important moment for the participants as most have been feeling left out, without options and hope for years. For the first time after years their house will become their home by taking part in this project. The next coming months will be crucial as these 25 houses will be upgraded to an adequate healthy housing standard providing in most cases a new roof, new windows and heat according to Flemish building laws. Each home will be awarded 30,000 euros to bring up to standard with the help of important partners of ‘Gent knapt op’. Social workers and architects will guide through the beneficiaries to manage and assist the renovation process of their home. This will change their lives as they will finally have an adequate home to live in.
All families, the recruiters and other fellow project officers, attended the ceremony of signing, together with Mrs. Tine Heyse - Deputy Mayor of the Environment, Climate, Housing and North-South, Mr. Rudy Coddens - Deputy Mayor of Social Policy, Poverty Counteraction, Health, Care, Senior Citizens Policy and Finances and celebrated this very important moment. The ceremony started with the introductory speeches by the two vice-mayors from Mrs. Tine Heyse and Mr. Rudy Coddens.
The social worker Bart talked about his experience speaking to residents in the neighborhood of Brugse Poort and architect Margo about her experience with the participants designing their renovation plans. The presentations ended with a moving speech from Marlies, a participant of the project. She testified about the living situation of her family and what the project means for them. Due to a child that is very sick, the family slipped down to poverty. Renovating their house with ‘Gent knapt op’ means that life becomes more bearable.
After the presentations each of the 25 participants was called up on the stage to sign their contract with the municipality. All participants also received a little present from the ‘Gent knapt op’ team, three qualitative smoke detectors to mark the change of their home to a safe and healthy environment. After the signing the evening continued with a cozy celebratory feeling between participants, political representatives and project officials accompanied with a drink and a bite.
Vice Mayor Rudy Coddens
Vice Mayor Rudy Coddens spoke about the importance of a decent home and the fight against poverty.
'The Flemish agency Child & Family, for example, uses six indicators to measure child poverty. "Housing" is one of those six. A dilapidated, unhealthy and unsafe home; being too small in a house and having too few utilities (no bath, no central heating, etc.): these are effectively all the things that are not good for the well-being of the residents in general, and for the education of small children in particular.
You don't dare to invite friends, the kids don't have a quiet place to study, and so on. That is why, a few years ago, in 2015, we started the 'Dampoort Knapt Op' project within the Social Welfare Department: our system to pre-finance and supervise renovations, in areas where it is badly needed, with people for whom such a renovation makes a world of difference (in the energy bill, for example); and then, in the event of a sale, return that money to our "rolling fund" for new renovations.'
Gent knapt op participant
“I bought this house with my husband at the time. It wasn’t bought from a certain need When I divorced, financial difficulties were one of my daily problems.. Suddenly I was on my own and received additional costs for lawyers and notaries who sometimes towering. From then on renovation was no longer an option. At the end of the month nothing remains. However, our house was in an urgent need for a renovation. It had been raining in for a long time already.”
What is next: The past months Gent knapt op has already concluded 3 open calls opening up to more neighborhoods of Ghent and including more vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, co -owners and renters. Over 50 houses and beneficiaries have been selected to participate in the renovation scheme until now and more than 300 applications have been made. We are all excited for the next phase of house renovations!
Gent knapt op has received more than 300 applications for houses to be renovated.