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Elvas is a Portuguese municipality located in the district of Portalegre in Alentejo, situated about 230 km east of Lisbon. The municipality population in 2011 was 23,078 with around 900 residents being of Roma origins, according to the estimates of the local facilitators.
The Roma families in Elvas live mostly in two large housing estates, the Housing Social Estate of St. Pedro belonging to the Portuguese Institute for Housing and Urban Rehabilitation (IHRU) , and the housing estate of Pias, managed by the municipality.
There are significant differences in the living conditions of the Roma families in these two neighborhoods, where the families in S. Pedro seem to have a higher degree of inclusion than the families living in the Pias neighborhood. In fact, the Pias neighborhood was built quite recently, some 15 years ago, through a project which aimed to fight poverty. However due to budgetary cuts at the municipality level, the team accompanying the integration of the population could not continue their work, as a result the neighborhood is turning into a ghetto.
Housing in general is one of the main issues in the two communities: in Pias 5-6 families still live in improper housing (shacks or tents), and in S. Pedro, Roma families have to live in overcrowded appartments.
Most Roma in Elvas rely on activities such as street commerce, maintenance (cleaning, repainting, handymen etc.), where some of the activities are induced through the CEI+ Programme within the Municipality (Programme of the Employment Institute) or on social benefits.
The only known Roma association in Elvas was created by the Community Action Group - Sílaba Dinâmica – as a means to gain more recognition from institutional counterparts as official interlocutor for the issues and plans for the Roma community in Elvas.
Elvas was identified together with Moura as a municipality subject of the “Parovel” documentary project on participation in Roma communities.
The Community Action Group in Elvas is one of the most dynamic in Portugal. It is formed of a majority of young Roma men (average age - 31), and one Roma woman, from both communities of the municipality.
The core group – made up of around 7 members - took the decision to organise as an NGO (Sílaba Dinâmica) so as to formalise their status in the dialogue with local institutions. The approach gives results since the municipality has already started to give the NGO small grants (up to 2500 euros) for the organization of various initiatives in line with the short term and long term priorities identified by the CAG.
The participation of Roma women is encouraged by all means possible.
Short term priorities of the CAG in Elvas:
* Organise a Solidarity Intercultural Event on the 8th of April 2015 to combat discrimination towards Roma (done);
* Organise a second edition of the Solidariy Intercultural Event on the 8th of April 2016;
* Collection and delivering of food items by the CAG to the Roma community (done);
* Ensure free access to the local pool for Roma children (done);
* Apply for European Funds for training courses for Roma in cooperation with the Municipality and a specialized vocational training company (Competir);
* Repair the Sports ground in St Pedro neighborhood;
Long term priorities of the CAG in Elvas: