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Czech city of Brno wants to try groundbreaking project for homeless people by giving them apartments

20.1.2016 23:35
Matěj Hollan (Photo: youtube.com)
Matěj Hollan (Photo: youtube.com)

News server ECHO24.cz reports that yesterday Brno city councilors agreed to vote on a project called "Housing First" ("Bydlení především") through which social apartments are to be awarded to homeless people. The project has been created in collaboration with the Platform for Social Housing and the Czech Labor Ministry and must now be approved by the municipal council.

Initially the project counts on awarding approximately 50 apartments to tenants who will be supervised by social workers. Preference will be given to families with children and to young people aged 25 and under.

Deputy Mayor Matěj Hollan of the Žít Brno (Brno Lives) movement said he sees the provision of housing as a key condition for jump-starting a normally functioning life. "If we want to work with people on the outskirts of our society, it is necessary to first meet their most important need, which is to have a place to live. This is a modern concept of social policy," he told ECHO24.cz.

In comparison with the costs incurred by the use of residential hotels to house this population (in crime prevention and in state subsidies for housing, etc.), Hollan believes it is both more economical and more effective to award municipally-owned social apartments to those in need of low-cost housing. The plan is to involve private landlords in the project and to prevent the creation of ghettos by distributing the apartments chosen for the scheme throughout all of Brno instead of concentrating them all in the same place.

The city will be allocating apartments that are not in high demand to the project. The social housing project to be implemented in Brno is inspired by experience from the United States and the successful work of a local expert there on the issue of homelessness, Katherine Gale.

This type of project has also been attempted in several other European cities. Those projects have reported significant progress.

Opposition criticism

Members of the opposition on the city council do not like the proposed social housing project. In their view the homeless people will be receiving apartments they do not deserve and those who will become tenants in the municipally-owned apartments will already have high debts.

Some people, according to ECHO24, do not like the idea of having people "from the streets" as neighbors. The project is to last two years and its costs are estimated at roughly CZK 10 million (EUR 370 000), most of which the city wants to raise from EU subsidies. 

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Brno, sociální bydlení, Soužití, Žít Brno



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