The Poles' Paths to their Own Homes in the 1980s. Selected Problems
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In Poland the 1980s were a time of a drastic limitation of housing construction. In contrast to 1978 - 'a record year', when as many as 248 000 homes were built, in 1982 their number dropped to 186 000. A flat remained a much desired and deficit commodity, and the non-fulfilment of requirements in this particular domain was regarded as crucial. The paths towards acquiring a home could be divided into two basic types: 1. routine - from the viewpoint of the then prevailing socio-economic system; 2. active ways of bypassing queues of applicants and/or accelerating the settlement of an allotment. The range of each of those approaches included numerous 'sub-types' whose frequency of application depended on the activity and policies of the authorities and the aspirants. The routine path involved waiting for an allotment after having fulfilled all the conditions demanded by legal regulations. The binding rules foresaw, primarily, the presentation of suitable documents confirming the income, describing heretofore-living conditions, and, in the case of cooperatives, verifying an appropriate input. Cooperative housing was the most universal form of meeting the existing needs. A considerably lesser role was played by investments made by various workplaces. National council estates, intended for the poorest, were suspended in 1976 and revived in 1983 as so-called communal housing, but their part in satisfying the requirements remained slight. The housing deficit was the reason why a growing role was assumed by assorted procedures of a semi-legal or outright illegal acquisition of flats. The 1980s witnessed also the emergence of new social initiatives aimed at increasing the scale of housing. These new impulses, however, were incapable of alleviating the 'housing shortage' in People's Poland.
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