Brno gives debtors a second chance, wants to keep families intact
The Brno town hall wants to reduce the number of families being evicted for defaulting on their rent. Often members of the Roma community, these families are about to get a second chance. Deputy Mayor of Brno Daniel Rychnovský (KDU-ČSL) told journalists last Wednesday that a new project will not cost much money and will prevent families from falling apart as a result of children being removed from substandard accommodation and placed in state care.
Rychnovský said 160 families have recently been evicted from municipally-owned apartments in Brno. Now the main sections of the city managing apartments in socially excluded localities, Brno-střed and Brno-sever, will be expected to communicate more with debtors in the future and attempt to address their situations with the help of so-called “Roma assistants”. The salaries for two such assistants next year will cost CZK 450 000 (EUR 17 000). Part of the funding will come from a state subsidy, while CZK 170 000 will be provided by the city itself.
The “second chance” involves tenants agreeing to a precise debt payment schedule in exchange for remaining in the apartments and paying off their debts over a longer period of time. The city is counting on using independent consignees to whom the indebted families will hand over the money they receive from their welfare benefits; the consignee will administer the payment of the family’s obligatory expenses, such as rent, before returning the remaining funds to the family.
"This project will lead to a change in mindsets. It will mean the local governments of various parts of the city will not take radical measures. They will be willing to wait several months for the debts to be paid off, and that will open the way to developing good will,” Rychnovský said. In his view, thanks to opening discussion on the issue, tenants will also realize that they are obligated to pay rent; the matter cannot be handled through repression, which will apparently only lead to radicalization.
Rychnovský said the project also makes it possible to take advantage of the work and experiences of organizations focused on the situation of the Roma in Brno. There are several such organizations in the city. Some of the best-known are IQ Roma servis, which mainly helps Roma find work, the DROM Roma center, which works with youth, and the Museum of Roma Culture.
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