On 1st and 2nd of October 2014, with the support of Rosa – Luxemburg – Stiftung Southeast Asia (RLS SEA), the University of Social Science and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City (USSH HCMC) held the international conference ‘Housing in poor areas of Ho Chi Minh city and solutions for a better future living environment’.
The first day began with the presentation of Dr. Nguyen Huu Minh, from the Gender and Family Institute of the Vientam Academy of Social Sciences. He presented “Some points about the living conditions of the Hanoian people in the beginning of the 21st century” by showing the concrete statistics.
Next, Assoc. Prof. Tran Thi Kim Xuyen from USSH HCMC, presented “Housing problems for poor people in Ho Chi Minh City”. She briefly introduced the Government’s efforts in improving living conditions for poor people. She also showed the housing gap between the poor and the rich in different areas. According to her, although the policies are good, they arestill ill accessible, especially for the poor, she thinks the Government needs to put more effort in building resettlement houses for those vulnerable groups.
In the first discussion session, one participant thought we need to clarify the definition of ‘poor’ and need to be alarmed about housing misbalance. Helga Spindler, Prof. em. University Duisburg-Essen, explained about the housing property in Germany, claimed that most German rent but not buy house, somehow their Government just partly support the medium class to buy, and she wondered why Vietnamese people must owe one?. Benedikt Frank, Verdi trade union secretary, asked the basic salary in Ho Chi Minh city. Alexander Schoder, RLS scholarship student, also claimed that the problems of policy making from ‘above’ also happen in Germany. In addition, Luu Quang Tuan from Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs shared they are researching new definition of ‘the multiple poor’.
Addressing these questions, Dr. Minh said the “poor” definition is depending on one’s self-determination. For Dr. Helga’s question, Minh explained the traditional culture of Vietnam people since house is the first priority. Regarding income issue, he explained that Vietnamese people have different channels of earning money, doing unofficial job beside the official one.
After tea break, Judith Vey, Scholar at the Institute for Protest and Social Movement, RLS scholarship alumni, made a speech about ‘The long march of Refugees – possibilities and realities of migrant self – organisation in Germany’. According to her, in Europe, people usually migrate to other Europe countries because of some reasons such as war, discrimination, apathy, etc. She introduced about the asylum in Germany and the way Government make decisions on asylum application. Also, she briefly talked about social reality of refugees in Germany: social exclusion, collective accommodations. In the second part, possibilities of support and self-organisation, such as anti-racist shopping: instead of cash, refugees receive vouchers for buying groceries, people by their own supplies with the vouchers and give cash to refugees were delivered to the listeners. She illustrated her paper with examples of refugee campaign: protest march from South Germany to Berlin, building a protest camp in Berlin. In conclusion, Vey named some achievements of those movements.
Next, Daniela Glagla, Consultant of Rhineland regional council, introduced ‘Consideration of migrants in social protection systems in Germany: Using the examples of mental health care and social housing in North Rhine-Westphalia’. She talked about migrants’ and ethnic minorities’ frequently disadvantaged social situation. Also claimed that communication difficulties are often stereotypically ascribed to immigrants and structural aspects are disregarded.
In the next discussion session, Dr. Minh talked more about the salary rate in Vietnam in different level of scholar and number of experience year, also admitted that it is very difficult in Vietnam to possess house with such existing salary.
On the afternoon of the first day, the workshop divided into 3 discussion blocks: Specific researches on housing for the poor; Intervention programs in term of housing for the poor; and Housing policy for the poor in Vietnam.
The second day, each block had one representative summarised results of discussion the day before. Block 1 suggested we should create our own policy which is suitable with our features and culture based on experiences from Germany. Block 2 resulted by adopting new access, give the initiative right for community will create harmony between stake holders. Block 3 saw the urgent in finding a new way in making suitable policy for the poor.
A lot of information was discussed through one and a half day of the workshop with many passionate ideas and experiences were shared. It is hoped to reach the policy makers in Vietnam on this issue.