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Czech evictees must leave school gym this weekend for housing in socially excluded localities

14.7.2018 9:25
A demonstration against the fact that impoverished Romani evictees from two closing residential hotels in the Czech town of Ústí nad Labem have nowhere acceptable to go was held on 14 June 2018. The signs read
A demonstration against the fact that impoverished Romani evictees from two closing residential hotels in the Czech town of Ústí nad Labem have nowhere acceptable to go was held on 14 June 2018. The signs read "Housing is a Right" and "The Street is No Solution". (PHOTO: Monika Mihaličková, Romea.cz)

Of the people who had to move away from one of two residential hotels that closed as of 30 June in the Czech city of Ústí nad Labem without having anywhere else to go, three families with children and three single men remain housed in the gym of a primary school in the socially excluded Předlice neighborhood. As of yesterday, two of those families have rental housing arranged in a building near Na Nivách Street, while the third family says they believe they will manage to find housing in the Nové Březno neighborhood.

If that attempt does not succeed, then the third family will also move into the same building as the other two. All those temporarily housed in the gym apparently must leave it by Sunday, 15 July.

Originally those being housed in the gym were told they could stay there until the end of July, but the city has shortened that opportunity, allegedly because of planned reconstruction work. According to a staffer with the People in Need NGO, Kateřina Köhlerová, the situation of those living in the gym is a frustrating one.

"The women who remain in the gym for now are taking advantage of the opportunity to do laundry at our branch office, which is just around the corner. They arranged for food from the organization Romano Jasnica several days ago... Two of the three men living in the gym without other family members have arranged classic rentals for themselves," she told news server Romea.cz.

The locality around Na Nivách Street, to which most of the families are meant to move, specifically to U jeslí Street, is not, according to the NGO worker, a good location for families with minor children. "For temporary housing, until they manage to find something else, that is the best that could be found in this situation, though. We will keep on looking for other housing together with the people from the closed residential hotels. That effort is not ending with this move," she told news server Romea.cz.

Miroslav Brož of the Konexe organization describes the apartment units arranged for the families as having no electricity or heating and as infested with bedbugs. He also says the two men who reportedly already have arranged "classic rentals" will be living with the sister of one of them who resides in a small single-room unit.

"Those people, at this moment, would prefer to remain in the gym because there they at least have electricity. In the locality of Na Nivách there is a big problem with drugs and there is a garbage dump several dozen meters away from the apartments. I believe this is not a temporary stop for them, but the final station. These people deserve dignified housing and a safe place to raise their children," he told news server Romea.cz.

"Roughly another 40 people have found temporary housing that, in my view, is not actually dignified, and it will not be possible for them to remain there for long. However, that is not an acute matter now. It is necessary to arrange housing for the rest of the people living in the gym," he summarized.

Originally the people in the gym were meant to have temporary accommodation there arranged until the end of this month, but according to reporting by news server iDNES.cz, city hall workers visited the gym on Tuesday and announced that they must all move out by today, 14 July. According to Jan Novotný, Deputy Director of the local police, which is coordinating the entire action, the doors to the gym will not be unconditionally closed, however, and whoever needs to urgently remain there will be able to do so.

"The school has painting and reconstruction work planned in the gym. For that reason, I told the people there that it would be good if they would actually move into their new housing if they already have some arranged. However, nobody will end up on the street if they do not have somewhere to go, we will not throw them out," he told iDNES.cz.

"It's psychologically very demanding here, everything is topsy-turvy. We have been here for almost 14 days, all of us together. We need to get out of here. I am here with my partner and four children. Yesterday we went to the park in front of the school to cook our lunch because we cannot cook here. There isn't even a washing machine here," Mr Štefan, one of the 22 evictees now in the gym, told news server iDNES.cz.

The crisis around the residential hotels arose at the end of May when their operator announced she would be closing her business there by the end of June. The owner of both buildings, the CPI Byty company, had previously announced that it would not be arranging to run the facilities itself.

A total of 224 people were living in the two residential hotels at the time, and most of them managed to arrange for rentals elsewhere thanks primarily to the big aid of the Vice-Mayor of the centrally-located municipal department where one facility was located, Karel Karika. Those who did not manage to relocate by the deadline had to move into the gym.

Activists, nonprofit organizations and volunteers have been arranging food deliveries to the people in the gym and preparing different activities for their children. However, everybody involved has quickly run out of steam for undertaking such work and most of them are extremely exhausted by now.

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Housing, Předlice, Socially excluded localities, Ústí nad Labem



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