Czech Republic: Building owner demolishing controversial properties on Přednádraží Street in Ostrava
The buildings on Přednádraží Street in Ostrava from which about 25 Romani families had to move away two years ago have been under new ownership since mid-October. After several unsuccessful auctions, the buildings were bought for almost CZK 600 000 (EUR 22 000) by the Ostrava Engineering and Repair Plant (Ostravské opravny a strojírny), which also owns a production facility nearby.
News server Lidovky.cz reports that the company wants to demolish all 10 buildings, which are in a desolate state due to disputes between the owner of the properties and the owners of the land around them. The Ostrava Engineering and Repair Plant expressed an interest in the shabby properties in June.
The news server reports that the previous owner's bankruptcy administrator said what is most valuable to the new owner is the land and the Ostrava Building Works Authority has issued a demolition order for that acreage that has now taken effect. The new owner therefore is now obligated to demolish all the buildings.
At the same time, however, negotiations await the company with the owners of the adjacent parcels, because there is no access without their agreement. The buildings are surrounded by land that is owned by others.
"We also went into this acquisition because we own a production facility in the immediate vicinity. For the time being, however, we don't know at all whether we will succeed in buying up the adjacent land too. That investment is completely up in the air," Mr Ležatka, the legal representative of Ostrava Engineering and Repair Plant, told Lidovky.cz.
Given that one of the owners of the surrounding plots of land is the Czech Rail Administration, which manages the state's property there, negotiation of the purchase could take years. Helena Balabánová, vice-chair of the local Společně-JEKHETANE ("Together") organization, pointed out to news server Romea.cz that when they had been occupied, the rents had been disproportionately high in the buildings used as rental housing for socially disadvantaged people despite the poor state of repair of the individual apartments, and no previous owner had ever invested into repairs.
The tenants had warned of the deteriorating situation in the locality by issuing a "Petition for the Rights of the Residents of the Přednádraží Locality in Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz" as long ago as 2007. The petition was addressed to then-Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček and representatives of the Municipal Department of Moravská Ostrava and Přívoz – of course, without achieving any results.
In 2012 the authorities announced to the people living on Přednádraží Street that they had until midnight the following day to move out of their homes. That announcement was followed by a fight against the decision and a long-lasting effort to save at least one of the buildings.
Ultimately, however, almost all of the occupants ended up elsewhere in overcrowded, overpriced residential hotels that are substandard in terms of hygiene and their social impacts on the residents. "They took away the home we had lived in for decades. Now we have spent two years moving from one apartment to another, we don't know what will happen next month, we basically have nothing now," Ms Helena, a longtime resident of Přednádraží Street, summarized the situation last year to news server Romea.cz.
The last occupants left the properties in 2013, when neither the electricity, sewerage or water services had been running for some time. Ever since then what to do with the buildings has been a problem.
The properties didn't sell for the asking price, so the owner's creditors proposed they be auctioned off. The auction price for both the buildings and the land beneath them was roughly CZK 1.5 million (EUR 55 000).
The Life Together (Vzájemné soužití) organization, led by Kumar Vishwanathan, attempted to purchase the properties. His aim was to make it possible for the Romani tenants to return to their homes.
That plan did not work out. On the one hand there were financial reasons for the failure, and on the other hand there were concerns about the legal wrangling in the unresolved dispute of who was the actual owner of the devastated sewer lines leading to one of the buildings.
- Bulgarian NGOs get injunction suspending demolition of Roma homes in Peshtera
- European Roma and Travellers Forum calls summer demolitions of Romani dwellings "unprecedented"
- Bulgaria: Romani dwellings demolished in Varna
- Albania: Romani neighborhood demolished for road, residents likely homeless
- Bulgaria: Nationalists exert political pressure to override suspension of Romani home demolitions
- Bulgarian NGO to sue over ongoing forced demolition of Romani homes in Garmen
- Bulgaria: Roma blockade demolition of their homes, riot police intervene
- Slovakia: Demolition of building in Romani settlement cancelled
- Czech Republic: Ostrava ghetto landlord appeals demolition order
- Prague 9 wants to demolish residential hotels, 130 people will become homeless
- Czech authorities order demolition of building no. 19 on Přednádraží street
- VIDEO: Ostentatious homes built by Roma community in Romania reflect their desire for prestige
- Infamous housing estate in Slovakia is finally turning around - continued
- Czech Government decides today on moving Agency for Social Inclusion to the Regional Development Ministry
- Czech institute says city's hope of state investment into "container" housing may be in vain
- Prague City Council disagrees with Czech bill to consolidate two housing benefits into one
- Roma forced into "container" housing by Czech mayor a decade ago warn others it's not fit for human habitation
- Jan Husák: Is the current Labor and Social Affairs Minister really worse than the worst-ever holder of that office?
- Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister claims "disruptive" change to housing benefits won't harm families or senior citizens
- Platform for Social Housing calls on Czech Labor Minister to withdraw her cancellation of housing benefits
- Czech research finds that majority must change its approach to Romani people in order to improve the situation in the schools
- Czech Govt Agency for Social Inclusion does not support new investment into infamous housing estate properties
- Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry plans to abolish existing housing benefits