The hardships that have confronted the people of former Yugoslavia throughout the past decade have been unprecedented in post-World War II Europe. The political and ethnic conflicts of the 1990s have affected all areas of social, economic and political life, and have had a particularly pronounced impact on the housing and property sectors. Indeed, the region faces an array of severe difficulties related to housing and property issues. These include more than a million refugees and displaced persons who are still unable or unwilling to return to their homes.
They also include a dysfunctional housing market in most countries, systematic discrimination against various ethnic groups, in particular the Roma, and an expanding informal housing sector. Many of these problems are associated with the sudden shift to a market-based economy. The privatisation of public housing and the loss of tenure and tenancy rights have rendered many people and families with limited and low-incomes more vulnerable to sub-standard living conditions, evictions and homelessness.