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Czech Republic: Many Romani families being evicted by year-end

19.12.2016 0:05
One of the apartment buildings on Soukenická Street in Broumov, Czech Republic from which Romani families were to be evicted by the end of 2016.
One of the apartment buildings on Soukenická Street in Broumov, Czech Republic from which Romani families were to be evicted by the end of 2016.

Czech Radio and news server iDNES.cz report that in the Czech town of Broumov in the Náchod area roughly 20 socially vulnerable families are set to lose their housing. Their leases are expiring before year-end and the landlords will not extend them.

The municipality does not have any of its own apartment units available and the families must find new accommodation as soon as possible. Mothers with children have been offered temporary shelter ouside of Broumov by the local council.

Some families have managed to find themselves new apartments, but most of them are fruitlessly calling real estate offices and are powerless to change their situations, iDNES.cz reports. "I don't like it that the landlord did not extend the contracts for people like me, or some of my neighbors, who have paid their rent, who don't owe anything for electricity. He justified not extending them by saying we don't meet the conditions, but he has taken no interest in the fact that the walls have been moldy here for several months and we are the ones who have had to breathe the air there," Josef Kuru, who has been living in a ground-floor unit with his partner and their two-and-a-half-year-old little girl since May, told news server iDNES.cz.

"We don't have any new housing yet. I attempted calling 30 ads, and I spent about CZK 1 000 [EUR 37] doing it. They usually ask us which apartment building we are moving out of and then immediately reject us. In Náchod the landlords are immune to our requests. We do not owe the municipality anything, we paid the landlord his rent absolutely promptly, and if there were ever any snags we paid what we owed," said Martin Čuri, who has lived in the apartment building for five years with his wife and their four children.

"I've been looking everywhere possible for a sublet, but the minute I say I'm a Romani woman and that there will be six of us living in the unit, they say they want a CZK 30 000 [EUR 1 100] deposit for what will be a CZK 10 000 [EUR 370] monthly rent. It's impossible for me to get that kind of money together," tenant Renata Jakovičová told Czech Radio.

The landlord purchased two dilapidated apartment buildings from the Broumov town council five years ago, together with the debt owed on the properties of CZK 150 000 [EUR 5 500]. The same landlord previously bought two other properties in the Náchod area.

"I warned many people here because they were making a mess, holding parties into the morning hours, and not cleaning up. I warned them two and a half months ago that if they did not pay their debts, and if things would not be put in order, I would not extend their leases. Naturally they believed I was joking," Milan Mircea Filipcik, the owner of the construction firm that purchased the properties, told news server iDNES.cz.

The Broumov town council are informed of the crisis situation. Mayor Jaroslav Bitnar (Votes for Broumov) said the town cannot help anybody, though.

"They all immediately came running to the town and demanded that we provide them apartment units. We don't know how to accommodate them, we can't. The town is not obliged to arrange other housing for people whose rental leases are ending," Bitnar told Czech Radio.

"The town is following the situation, we are attempting to make it work with one or two apartment units, but actually just for crisis situations and only for a very restricted time," the mayor told iDNES.cz. Bureaucrats are offering people mainly advice and can facilitate accommodation for mothers with children in shelters.

According to a long-term monitoring of the situation in Romani localities that was performed in 2009, around 800 Romani people live in Broumov. Residents of Broumov were contacted and estimated that there may be several hundred more Romani people than that in the town today, with just one-tenth of those contacted saying they considered the Romani residents to be respectable.

th, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Housing, Monitoring, Roma, social housing



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