Daroslava Mihailovic, a young pharmacist, was one such unwanted tenant. The housing council of pavilion VI, which belonged to the Yugoslav National Army (Jugoslovenska narodna armija JNA), assigned a machine room to Daroslava and her husband, Pavle, in October 1955, on the grounds that the army employed Pavle as a doctor’s aid. In a 1956 letter contesting her impend-ing eviction, she argued that her previous efforts to obtain housing in the pre-scribed manner from housing bodies, or to rent a bachelor’s room, had been to no avail. She and her husband could not afford to rent a private apartment on their modest salaries. She implored the People’s Committee (Narodni odbor) of the commune of New Belgrade not to throw her out on the street, but to allocate her any other space, until an apartment could be made available to her. She added that “society has no interest in dragging down two young peo-ple, who work toward the betterment of our country with all their might. . . .
And, as things stand, I ask whether our mistake, in not having obtained an apartment and in not having a space in the world in which to take refuge, is so big that we must remain on the street without the ability to work, to rest, and to live.”22 It may seem unusual that a state institution, the JNA, assigned the machine room to the family in the first place, but the JNA had its own priorities namely, providing housing for all its employees and in addressing them, employed strategies that came into conflict with those of the architects.
The federal state’s own housing allocation policies worked against the urban planners’ vision for a new cutting-edge city center by reproducing the poor living conditions and social inequalities that planners had vowed to eliminate. A certain number of the apartments in the new pavilions were allocated to fam-ilies who had been relocated, either because their previous apartments were considered uninhabitable or because they were demolished to make way for new construction. In theory, the state’s distributive policy was acting to elim-inate social inequality, by offering underprivileged households better-quality homes. On the one hand, these households were not segregated into “social housing” with the associated stigma, as became popular in many developed capitalist states, but given homes in the same buildings as people employed by state firms and the military. On the other hand, in view of the dire housing shortage, investors tended to cram large households from areas designated as slums into apartments meant for much smaller families.23
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To a certain extent, employers also assigned their own workers apartments that were arguably too small. This was particularly the case with large families, as few large apartments were built. However, a comparison between employee
And yet living conditions in the pavilions were luxurious in comparison to those experienced by people living in numerous barracks erected in New Belgrade. The barracks had been built as “temporary” expedients, mostly for construction workers and their families, but the perpetual housing crisis kept them standing far longer than initially intended, well into the 1970s.27 Barracks were not built very sturdily, and requests for repairs were constant. At one meeting, held in 1950, a resident asked for materials to repair the buildings, which he described as “dilapidated.” The following year, in the middle of the winter, residents complained of missing doors and windowpanes, as well as the absence of locks on doors, and in 1953 residents asked for the roofs of their barracks to be mended. Residents also felt frustrated by the primitive conditions they were forced to endure. Stojan Trifunovic’s barracks did not include kitchens. He said that people were starting fires everywhere to make their meals and asked for a kitchen cabin to be built “so that this does not look like some kind of a gypsy encampment.” Others complained about the lack of sufficient garbage cans and garbage removal. Like the inhabitants of the pavilions, they too suffered from the dearth of shops and limited public transportation.28
Workers forced to live in the barracks looked on with frustration as other people moved into the brand-new buildings they had built with their own hands. They frequently accused the housing authorities of irregularities in the distribution of apartments and especially of favoritism. Milan Cvijic, for example, noted that one of his coworkers had a family of ten and was forced to live in barracks, while families of two were assigned spacious apartments.29 Dusan Perisic argued that it was only right that the People’s Committee give apartments to the workers who had toiled on New Belgrade, “rather than the Gypsies and those others from Jatagan Mala who have never even heard of the construction of New Belgrade.”30 Jatagan Mala was a neighborhood of low-quality and informal housing located on the banks of the Sava River just south of the city center, spanning the area currently occupied by the Mostar interchange and the Prokop train station, said to have been primarily occupied by Roma.
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