The Pata Cluj project – residential desegregation of the landfill area of Cluj-Napoca
One of the most astonishing manifestation of spatial injustice in Cluj-Napoca (Cluj county, Northwest Development Region of Romania) is the ghettoization of Pata Rât near the city’s landfill, an area which displays the cumulative effects of a polluted environment, geographical isolation, socio-territorial segregation, housing deprivation, cultural stigmatization, and racialization of both the space and the people inhabiting it.
‘Pata-Cluj’ was an action that targeted this disadvantaged area with the aim ‘to prepare the social inclusion of the communities located in Pata Rât and Cantonului area, the most vulnerable group of Cluj Municipality and partly of the Cluj Metropolitan Area.’ It was implemented between October 2014 and April 2017 by the Inter-Community Development Agency – Cluj Metropolitan Area with the support of a Norway Grant. The full title of the project referred to Cluj Metropolitan Area, and specifically to its vulnerable groups, including the disadvantaged Roma. Nevertheless, its beneficiaries were only the inhabitants of the Pata Rât neighbourhood of Cluj-Napoca. Two thirds of the 35 families who had been relocated from Pata Rât (cc 10% of the inhabitants) were given apartments bought or constructed by project money outside of the city of Cluj-Napoca, in three of the villages of the Cluj Metropolitan Area (Apahida, Florești, Baciu).
The project might have had an impact on the social workers hired at the specialized department of the City Hall, but it did not generate change in city policies regarding Pata Rât, evictions, social housing or urban development, and its team was not sustained by the municipality for very long after the project budget was consumed. The full scope of socio-territorial justice to the inhabitants of Pata Rât is still waiting to be delivered by further externally funded projects. No political accountability, no institutional change, and no financial or other types of contributions have been enacted by the decision-making bodies of the local public administration towards improving living conditions in Pata Rât or relocating the inhabitants into adequate homes in other parts of the city.