Czech firm to evict residential hotel tenants tonight
The situation at the residential hotel on Čelakovského street in the Krásné Březno quarter of Ústí nad Labem is escalating. The CPI Byty company, which owns the residential hotel, previously announced it would be shutting the building down today. Now the firm has posted a letter to the tenants on a bulletin board there informing them that unless they move out by 19:00 CET today, the company will intervene against them tomorrow morning.
"On Friday 1 February at 8 AM the Municipal Police will arrive to check the building and shut it down. The property owner's Security Team will then take over and will not let anyone into the residential hotel," the CPI letter reads.
CPI: Out on the street or we'll intervene
"There are families here who have not yet found any other housing and others who have come to support them," Míra Brož of the Konexe association told news server Romea.cz today. The people are activists who have been assisting the tenants for some time, for example, by holding a St. Nicholas Day celebration for the children last month. Several journalists are at the scene as well as police officers, who are posted in front of the residential hotel.
CPI previously explained the closure of the residential hotel by saying that "according to expert evaluations, the hygienic and technical state of the facility has radically deteriorated and endangers the lives of those accommodated there." However, the activists all agree that CPI has ended its contract with the operator of the residential hotel because Romani residents have moved in there from the Předlice quarter. The ending of that contract makes it possible for CPI to close the residential hotel irrespective of whether the tenants have anywhere else to go.
Předlice landlord, town are to blame
The Romani families had to move away from Předlice due to the poor state of repair of the building in which they were living. The owner of the building, who bought it for a very advantageous price from the town, is to blame for its condition, as he never intended to perform the necessary repairs. The owner told his former tenants he had no substitute accommodation to offer them, even though the law requires him to take care of them.
The families, therefore, were evacuated from the building under strange circumstances, first to an elementary school gym, and then to the overpriced residential hotel in Krásné Březno even though they did not want to move there. "They threatened to take our children into state care unless we moved there," one mother from Předlice told news serveu Romea.cz.
The Ústí nad Labem town hall is not doing what it is required to by law either. Town officials have distanced themselves from accommodating these people, even though they are required by law to take care of people in distress.
There is some accommodation available in town for the families still living at the residential hotel in Krásné Březno, but the properties offered to them are also hygienically flawed, apartments or other residential hotels full of bedbugs or cockroaches. The families do not want to move into such conditions or live in such environments and would like to have housing that corresponds to the arrangements they were forced to leave in Předlice. Some of the families have even found other housing, either on their own or with the aid of NGOs, but they now need between at least one week and 14 days to put the new apartments in order and furnish them.
Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion calls on town to act
The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion has called on the Ústí nad Labem town hall to conduct further negotiations about these people's case. "According to the available information, delivery of electricity and water will be cut off to the residential hotel today. As of yesterday, 24 units were still occupied there. Staff of the municipal social welfare department have given the tenants the addresses of residential hotels and shelters with free rooms. The list contains predominantly localities that are not in Ústí nad Labem (the towns of Most, Osek, Duchcov, Dubí, Obrnice, Děčín, Lovosice, Louny, and Žatec). We consider this approach unacceptable. It is essential that the situation be resolved within the town of Ústí nad Labem, not to the detriment of neighboring communities. Forced migration for housing reasons usually leads to further deterioration of a family's situation, primarily that of the children," the Agency writes in its statement.
The Agency goes on to say that it "informed the town leadership about these risky developments last fall and initiated the convening of a mayoral Action Group on this issue. Despite the efforts of many of the actors responsible, in particular the commander of the municipal police, nonprofit field social workers and the social welfare department of the Předlice Municipal Department, it has not yet been resolved. The town leadership considered the option of establishing a municipally-owned residential hotel, but for the time being there are no results on that front. The Agency has been trying to get the Action Group to reconvene for the past two weeks and is still trying to reconvene it now. It is essential that all the responsible units - the town leadership, the social welfare department, the municipal department leaderships, nonprofits and the police - coordinate their actions."
Concert to support those evicted
Tomorrow, Friday 1 February, there will be a concert at 19:00 in support of the families evicted from building no. 106 in Předlice who are now being evicted again. The concert will take place in the Exil (Exile) club in Ústí nad Labem (www.exil.cc). People from the residential hotel are planning to attend. All money donated will be used to benefit the evictees. The concert is being organized by the Housing for All initiative (iniciativa Bydlení pro všechny).
This past Monday a demonstration by Housing for All was held in front of the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry in support of the evictees. Former presidential candidate Táňa Fischerová and Czech Helsinki Committee chair Anna Šabatová addressed the gathering. During the protest several activists forced their way into the ministry building and demanded to speak with the minister. The activists were removed from the building by police, who behaved brutally not only toward those arrested, but also toward several journalists who were present.
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