Czech town buying real estate in troubled neighborhoods for social housing development
The Czech town of Chomutov began preparing in May to buy out apartment units in problematic localities on its territory - and in just one week, property owners offered them five units. The town is planning to acquire roughly 20 such units annually.
The aim of the project is to make affordable housing available to senior citizens, single mothers and young people and to preclude "trafficking in poverty". The town is using an EU subsidy of CZK 7.5 million [EUR 293 000] for the buyout and will itself cover at least one-tenth of the costs.
The town has established the conditions under which it will buy real estate for these purposes. The apartment units must be unencumbered by liens, bedbug-free, and ready for immediate occupancy.
"The apartments must be equipped with either a bathtub or shower, a sink, a toilet, a kitchen unit, an oven and a stove," Vice-Mayor Milan Märc (Nový Sever - New North) announced. The unit can be located anywhere in Chomutov with the exception of selected localities on Kamenná Street and those near the District Court.
The principles of the EU subsidy program would not facilitate buying real estate in those locations, according to the local council. "Real estate will be bought for the purchase price that is customary for that location and time, not to exceed the price listed in the appraisal," the town announced.
Kamila Zinčenková of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion describes whom the social apartment units are meant to serve as follows: "These are impoverished people. Those eligible will be people for whom it is difficult to find work, or people who are in debt."
"Naturally, single parents will be eligible," Zinčenková said. The town hall has compiled a list of roughly 150 such persons.
According to Zinčenková, Chomutov is one of the first towns in the Czech Republic to take advantage of the EU subsidy for buying out apartment units and then turning them into social housing. Local leadership said the model, which has yet to be tested elsewhere, can only fail if the town is unable to reach agreement with property owners.
Local assembly members will decide on the buyouts and on who will then move into the social apartments. The first such decisions will be made this month.
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