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June 2, 2020
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Czech Republic: Romani tenant says evictions would further property sale

Ostrava, 8.8.2012 0:56, (ROMEA)
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The situation in the locality on Přednádraží street in Ostrava-Přívoz has not been addressed for several years, but it escalated on 29 July 2012, when the water was cut off to all of the tenants, both those who were paid up and those in default. One week later, more than 50 Romani families were delivered an order to move out one morning. The buildings in which they live have been condemned by the Building Works Authority. Locals were given only 24 hours to voluntarily leave Přednádraží street. The 22 families who are paid up are remaining in their homes despite having received various threats. News server Romea.cz interviewed one of the residents of Přednádraží street, Irena Horvátová.

Q: What do you say to the situation here on Přednádraží street?

A: There's a lot to say. It's a catastrophe. They turned off our water, and now they're pushing us out because the buildings aren't fit for human habitation. We've lived here for years without it bothering anyone, but suddenly it's a problem. No one wants to help us. The Building Works Authority comes here and checks the apartments, each one separately. Each apartment does have something wrong with it, you know. I don't know of one that doesn't. They're bothered by the plumbing, the cellars, the roofs and the chimneys.

Q: Previously none of this bothered them? How long has it not bothered them?

A: I have lived here 15 years, except for a four-year break when I lived in Bohumín. No one has ever been bothered by the state of these buildings. No one ever took an interest - and now that there's a new owner, the state of the buildings suddenly bothers them? They should be ashamed of themselves. All of them, mainly the people working for the authorities, at the town.

Q: What do you believe this is about?

A: It's about money, nothing else. They want to push us out and sell it off. Supposedly a machine-works is interested. Look at our landlord. Do you know how many people he has helped here? How many times he could have kicked people out for not paying rent? He never did. He always stood by us, always. He berated and cursed people, but he never threw them out. In the end, many left of their own accord. When you look at the kids around here... it's unbearable. You go to the town hall and they just make excuses for each other there. That doesn't work.

Q: Do you have somewhere else to go?

A: Well... just here, on the ground. I don't have anywhere to go. They are offering me a residential hotel, but I will not move into one room with my children.

Q: How much do they want for you to live there?

A: I have seven children. They want CZK 16 000 for them. I have two grown children who unfortunately have no income and I would have to pay another CZK 7000 a month for them separately - so CZK 23 000 altogether.

Q: What will you do? Where will you go?

A: Nowhere, I'm staying here. I'm not going anywhere.

Q: What if the police evict you?

A: I'll come back. I'm not giving up, even if I have to be here without electricity or water. I will stay here, I don't have anywhere else to go.

Q: How many people are suffering a similar fate, i.e., have nowhere else to go?

A: About 20, maybe 22 families have stayed. There are about 140 – 145 people here.

Q: Who should be taking care of this?

A: The chief magistrate. When neither the vice-mayor nor the mayor of the municipal department will, then the chief magistrate of the town should. He shouldn't just leave it like this. I blame the chief magistrate most of all. He should give us a chance, but he won't. He prefers to leave us all like this.

Q: Do you believe they have apartments available?

A: They have 90 apartments empty. The other families have left, they're in the residential hotels now. Is it so hard to house 22 families? We could work on it here. We could live somewhere else, help fix it up here, and then move back in.

Q: Why don't they want to offer you housing? Are they afraid you won't pay the rent?

A: No, for the most part the people still here are the ones who paid everything on time. They probably don't want to give us housing because we're Gypsies, I don't know. They have housing for the whites, but not for the blacks.

Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, ryz, Martin Grinvalský, translated by Gwendolyn Albertd
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