Czech initiative says town must take responsibility for evictees
The Housing for All initiative (Iniciativa Bydlení pro všechny), which is assisting people living at the residential hotel on Čelakovského street in Ústí nad Labem, is calling on the owner of that property, the CPI Byty company, to reconnect electricity and water service to the building and extend the rental contract held by those occupying it. Families with children remain at the residential hotel who have not yet been able to find acceptable accommodation into which to move. The occupants of the residential hotel have been supported by Czech Helsinki Committee chair Anna Šabatová and former presidential candidate Táňa Fischerová. News server Romea.cz publishes a full translation of the initiative's latest press release, first released in Czech on 1 February at 10:45 CET, below.
Housing for All: The City Has a Responsibility to its Citizens. We Are Looking for a Conciliatory Way
On Friday, a day after the scheduled eviction, famillies with children and the activists who came to support them still remain in the dormitory in Krásné Březno in Ústí nad Labem. "The situation is serious," says initiative member Lenka Novotná. "We certainly would not like the situation to escalate and develop into a conflict. We want to contribute toward its settlement and finding a solution."
At this point, the families supported by the activists are trying to arrange an appointment with Deputy Mayor Zuzana Kailová. They have also asked the landlord of the building for cooperation and called upon the owner of the flats in Beneše Lounského to take responsibility and act according to his obligations. As one of the residents, Iveta Jaslová, pointed out: "Mainly, we urgently ask the CPI company, which is the owner of the dormitory, for the reinstallation of both electricity and water and the extension of the lease for the residential hotel residents."
Lenka Novotná adds: "Renting out residential hotels to poor families at very high rates, largely financed by the state in the form of housing benefits, has generated huge profits for a long time. They cannot just shun their responsibility and disconnect the electricity and heat, especially in a situation when the tenants, including children, have nowhere else to go."
"The town has an obligation to its citizens when private landlords fail them. We are asking for a solution that does not mean the situation deteriorates further. We want a solution that will not result in these families being broken up or exposed to harm by those who make money on poverty," said activist Lenka Novotná.
The private landlord of the apartment building in Beneše Lounského street, who is to blame for the families' current situation, has not suggested any real solution, despite the fact that the city filed a legal complaint against him. The apartments that have been offered to the families so far by the town or by the People in Need organization were either unsuitable for hygienic reasons, or would result in the families being broken up. The ownership of others was dubious."Some were linked to this trafficking in poverty and would bring the families into the same situation they are in today," says Lenka Novotná.
The responsibility of the town and state has not only been addressed by activists. "The state behaves as if the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights did not exist. By ratifying that covenant, however, the state recognized the right of every individual to have a roof over their heads. It is the Government who is responsible to the international community for the fulfillment of the obligations arising from the Covenant," said former Deputy Ombudsman Anna Šabatová.
Táňa Fischerová, a former presidential candidate, also supports the families, stating over the phone: "I do not understand how is it possible that the situation has deteriorated to this stage and the authorities remain idle. We are ceasing to be a fair state."
The inaction of the town has also been criticized by the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, which stated in a press release that over the past two weeks prior to this current escalation the town has not called for a meeting of the so-called Mayoral Action Group, which was supposed to deal with the situation. Activists are calling for the inclusion of the families concerned in any negotiations about their future.
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