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Czech Gov't plans program to demolish condemned ghetto buildings without EU strings

21.7.2015 23:41
The Romani-occupied quarter of Předlice in the Czech town of Ústí nad Labem. Buildings with bricked-up entrances like this are not unusual there. (Photo: František Kostlán)
The Romani-occupied quarter of Předlice in the Czech town of Ústí nad Labem. Buildings with bricked-up entrances like this are not unusual there. (Photo: František Kostlán)

The Czech Regional Development Ministry is designing a program to aid municipalities with demolishing ruined buildings. "The demolition of these buildings is a partial contribution to addressing the situation in socially excluded localities," Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democratic Party) said today during a visit to Ústí nad Labem.

The Ústí Region has estimated it needs roughly CZK 250 million to demolish condemned properties on its territory Sobotka said there are two kinds of aid, one an option to use EU money, and one an option to use only state money.

"It seems European money can only be used if some form of social housing is also built anew at the same location," the PM said. "If we want to create a program that is purely for demolitions, which I personally consider very useful, then we will have to use exclusively national money."

The ministry is slated to present its proposal and its terms for the state aid to municipalities during a cabinet session to be held not in Prague, but in the Ústí Region, apparently during the second half of September. According to the PM, the municipalities must own the buildings they plan to demolish and must contribute financially to their demolition.

According to Ústí Regional Governor Oldřich Bubeníček (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia), the aid program would evidently apply to buildings for which demolition would be essentially cheaper than reconstruction. "Unfortunately, we have such buildings in most towns," he said.  

If the program is eventually created, one of the first buildings to be demolished is located on Matiční Street in Ústí nad Labem. That street became the center of international attention at the end of the 1990s due to a dispute over the erection of a fence between non-Romani and Romani residences.  

Other such sites, according to the Governor, would be the Janov housing estate in the town of Litvínov (Most District), the Chanov housing estate in the town of Most and the Předlice quarter in Ústí nad Labem. Sobotka also said he considers social work in the field to be even more important than demolishing buildings when it comes to combating social exclusion.  

"We have also discussed the need to strengthen our control over the disbursal of welfare so it cannot be misused in these localities," the PM said. In his view there is a need to work on job creation as well.

The Ústí Region has long had the highest unemployment rate in the country. "There is also a need to combat crime, which requires increased police activity," the PM said. 

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Ghetto, Housing, sociální bydlení, vyloučená lokalita



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