Under the banner „Gdynia ReNew” Social Innovation Lab coordinates the revitalization process in six areas of Gdynia: Babie Doły, Oksywie, Witomino-Radiostacja, Meksyk and Pekin housing estates, and the area of Zamehofa-Opata Hackiego streets in Chylonia borough. For different reasons those places have differed from other parts of the city for years. They are characterized by accumulation and complexity of social issues, visibly lower standard of urban space, and often a geographical isolation and a stigma of “the worse place.” The investment and socio-cultural efforts are ongoing there in order to improve the quality of residents lives, restore social ties and activate local communities. Particulars of such activities are written in the Communal Revitalization Program, which has been developed with participation of residents and it is implemented basing of continuous public consultations.
Revitalization measures include investments in roads, buildings renovations, developing new sports and recreation areas, and also equally important social and cultural activities such as creating social gardens, painting murals, outdoor cinema or a theater with residents performing as actors. At present intensive works are underway focusing on creating a network of community centers and those include both hard works (e.g. tenders for reconstructions of old building and building new ones) and development of the program’s concept for centers. Revitalization program is different for each of the areas as those differ from each other by size, needs and location in Gdynia. In some areas, like ZOH estate housing in Chylonia borough, the emphasis is on investments; however, in other places like Pekin, which is a private-own area, ongoing are mainly social activities. Residents of Pekin can benefit from the city’s support in moving to new residences. The aid offer defined in the Support Program allows obtaining co-financing of rents of new apartments. The support also includes counseling on professional career and adaptation of family in a new milieu. Social workers of Housing Reintegration and Intervention Center of Gdynia’s Social Welfare Center are in constant contact with residents of Pekin.
The starting point for revitalization in Gdynia is to understand that all social, spatial, functional, economic, technical, and milieu issues are inseparably linked with each other. Integrating activities dedicated to supporting local communities with measures aimed at improving their residence area, and at same time securing conditions for further continuous growth are of key importance.
Gdynia ReNew entails the symbolism of renewal (social, spatial, in public services) and also a harbinger of innovative approach to the implementation of changes in urban areas. The “Gdynia ReNew” expression should be understood as a fresh approach to the stigmatized properties and areas of Gdynia and restoring their proper place on the mental map of the city. This assumes that development of individual sub-areas of revitalization affects the change observed throughout the whole city. It stresses that the potential and capability of its boroughs, sub-areas, local communities, and neighbourhood groups constitute the driving force of change in the city. It is the appeal to Gdynia’s tradition – “the city of sea and dreams,” built and developed with the energy of its residents.
Key challenges and how these were overcome:
- Although Gdynia systematically leads the rankings as one of the best Polish cities to live in, the municipality’s assessment of the socio-economic situation have not overlooked negative development trends: deepening social stratification and differences in the living conditions of residents. Poor living conditions are also often linked with other social problems such as unemployment, low civic participation or high dependence on welfare. These phenomena underlie systemic changes in the area of social policy, that have been implemented in cooperation with local communities, non-governmental organizations and self-government institutions. This translated into the launch of a long-term Gdynia Urban Revitalization Program for 6 designated areas requiring special support.
Key success factors:
- The social aspect of urban regeneration is, in the municipality’s understanding, the basis for permanent change in those areas and achieving resilient growth. One of the main projects which is being implemented is the creation of a network of community centres, where residents have a vital voice about creating the offer and future activities of those places. The other key action is encouraging and enabling the communities to participate in investment processes which are being undertaken. In addition, the city conducts intensified social work within the framework of the Development of Social Services project carried out in partnership with non-governmental organizations, funded by ESF.
Organisation: Laboratorium Innowacji Społecznych / Social Innovation Lab
Commissioning Agent: Municipality of Gdynia
How long has the project been operational: 2017-2026
How long the project took from concept approval to implementation: 2 years
Funding: Approx. 100 million zlotys, incl. over 64 million of EU funds. Co-financing from: the Municipality of Gdynia’s budget, European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund