Czech PM Sobotka does not want more homelessness, demands law be changed
"I am of the opinion that it is essential for the Labor Minister to respond by drafting another amendment to the law where we establish clear rules to prevent people from ending up on the street en masse who are not entitled to any state support," said Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka after yesterday's cabinet session. His remarks were made in response to the situation prompted by a recently-adopted amendment to the law on aid to those in material distress which means that as of May, applications for housing benefits filed by people living in residential hotels are approved by local authorities, not the state's Labor Offices.
The amendment was intended as an instrument for combating "traffickers in poverty", but in several municipalities it has been used against the occupants of the residential hotels. The total numbers of approved and rejected applications are unknown, but in some towns the situation could be critical.
Human rights activist Kumar Vishwanathan estimates that in Bohumín and Ostrava alone, local authorities could reject as many as 2 200 applications, which means that as many as 7 000 people might end up on the street. Municipalities are approaching their assessment of these applications very differently: Some are rejecting applications across the board, like Bohumín and the Mariánské Hory Municipal Department of Ostrava (724 applications total).
Others are not assessing them at all, claiming they do not have enough information to do so, such as the Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz Municipal Department (247 applications) or Cheb (37) applications. By refusing to review them, of course, they are de facto rejecting them, because the approval of the municipality is required for the benefits to be awarded.
Other local councils are creating their own sets of criteria for assessing these applications that are either more or less favorable toward people seeking to live in residential hotels: The Ostrava-Jih Municipal Department, like several others, is requiring that applicants have permanent residency based on their territory and not have any outstanding debts toward the municipality, which of course are criteria that cannot be met by many applicants. Since more than 1 000 persons are requesting housing benefits in that municipal department alone, it would seem that Vishwanathan's estimate is a realistic one.
The Ústí nad Labem town hall has also designed detailed criteria for assessing these applications, according to spokesperson Romana Macová, and those are expected to be definitively approved during the next few weeks. For the time being, Ústí has approved 454 applications, but only for periods ranging between one to three months.
In Karviná, spokesperson Šárka Swiderová says town councilors are requiring that an applicant's permanent residency be based on their territory; the town still has to process approximately 300 applications for housing benefits. The wording about municipalities approving the benefits made it into the law because of an amendment proposed by Czech MP Zdeněk Stanjura.
The Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister did not agree with the changes, but was unable to participate in the vote as she is neither an MP nor a Senator. Most of her colleagues from the Social Democrats and their coalition partners voted for the amendment (Czech Prime Minister Sobotka was excused from that vote).
The amendment was then later approved by a clear majority of Senators. Czech Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier, who is also a Senator, abstained from that vote.
- Czech experts warn rising homelessness is underway
- Czech towns begin to "produce" hundreds of newly homeless people after law has potentially catastrophic effect
- Czech Republic: 17.5 years for two counts of attempted murder of homeless people
- Analysis: Neo-Nazi murders of homeless in Czech Republic may not even be counted as such
- Czech DSSS supporter tells court that "gypsies" and homeless people are better off dead
- Czech bishop lunches with the homeless, Romani representatives and senior citizens in Brno
- International conference on Romani homelessness held in Czech Republic
- European research shows most homeless people can maintain housing when rehoused
- Another Czech hate crime? Homeless man murdered in Prague
- Czech homeless people make video at Prague train station
- Czech Republic: New law would mean thousands at risk of homelessness
- Czech director of Association of Homeless Shelters on "A Night Outside"
- Archbishop of Prague hosts Christmas lunch for homeless and refugees
- Prague establishes special group to remove homeless people from mass transit
- Czech municipality closing residential hotels, hundreds face homelessness
- Nine families still at risk of eviction and homelessness in Ostrava
- Prague 9 wants to demolish residential hotels, 130 people will become homeless
- Czech Republic: Yet another homeless man attacked in Olomouc
- Czech Republic: Another homeless man attacked in Olomouc
- NGO director in Czech Republic says politicians' rhetoric about "inadaptable" Roma is dangerous, some non-Roma refugees from Ukraine are reportedly aggressive toward local Roma here
- Czech mobile vaccination teams visit excluded localities in Ostrava-Přívoz, Regional Authority working with Romani NGOs on outreach
- Czech public health officials asking whether those testing positive for COVID-19 are Czech or Romani - but questions about nationality not being asked systematically
- Czech/Romani NGO tells Public Defender of Rights his remarks on Human Rights Day are a disgrace
- Czech mayor heading new commission to design changes to housing benefits
- Impoverished Roma are subjected to blackmail and slave wages, Czech mayor blames their poor negotiation skills
- Analysis: Czech society remains blind to how the poorest of the poor are (not) housed
- Czech Public Defender of Rights calls for social housing law, says media should stop blaming Roma
- Czech fundraising campaign begins for 25 evictees now living in a primary school gym
- Czech residential hotels close, 21 people now living in a primary school gym
- Czech landlord allegedly threatens to pull the plug tonight on evictees' amplified displacement party
- Czech city says 56 evictees still not rehoused, must move by the end of the week