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Many disadvantaged people do not receive the help they need to find a home - Document no. 3:8 (2007-2008)

The public assistance schemes intended to help disadvantaged people to find a home do not work well enough. The standard of a lot of municipal housing is too poor and the living environment unsatisfactory. ‘The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has not been sufficiently targeted in its management of the housing assistance field. As a result, many people do not receive the help they need,” says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 5/22/2008 3:13 PM

Document no 3:8 (2007–2008) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the help available to the disadvantaged on the housing market, was submitted to the Storting on 22 April 2008.

The disadvantaged on the housing market are people who are dependent on help and financial support to obtain and hold on to a home. The investigation shows that housing assistance schemes do not reach all the disadvantaged. This is due, among other things, to inadequate coordination of the administration of the schemes. People who neither have sufficient income to service a start-up loan nor qualify for a housing subsidy, municipal housing or housing allowance slip through the net. The fact that many people fail to qualify for the housing allowance scheme is due both to the financial limits that apply and to the requirements concerning type of household.

Waiting times for municipal housing are long. Most of the municipalities investigated state that they have too few houses that are suitable for people with substance abuse and/or mental health problems, for large families or for people with disabilities. The standard of a lot of municipal housing is too poor and the living environment unsatisfactory. ‘Some families with children in municipal housing live in conditions that can only be described as unacceptable,’ says Mr Kosmo.

Roughly 40 per cent of the municipalities do not send written decisions to all applicants for municipal housing. This is in breach of the requirement in the Pubic Administration Act concerning decisions in individual cases, and it has serious implications for the due process protection afforded to the disadvantaged. Among other things, it means that many applicants are denied an opportunity to appeal.

The investigation also points out that the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development does not have a good enough overview of the housing needs of the disadvantaged and of whether the housing assistance schemes serve their intended purpose. Without sufficient knowledge about what groups require help, it is not possible to adapt the use of available remedies in a manner that ensures that policy goals are attained. In the Office of the Auditor General’s opinion, the State Housing Bank must increase its efforts and raise its expertise in the field of social housing policy.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development agrees with the Office of the Auditor General that the help available to the disadvantaged on the housing market is not good enough. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development states that it takes these unsolved problems seriously and that it is necessary to intensify the national focus on this area.

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