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Poll shows 71 % of Czechs support adoption of a social housing law

9.1.2017 9:35
The National Meeting of People in Need of Housing took place on 17 -18 July 2014 in Prague. (PHOTO:  Facebook profile of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion)
The National Meeting of People in Need of Housing took place on 17 -18 July 2014 in Prague. (PHOTO: Facebook profile of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion)

The Platform for Social Housing reports that most Czechs believe a law should exist establishing an obligation for municipalities to maintain a certain number of social apartments to offer to citizens in need of housing. Those are the findings of a representative public opinion poll implemented by the MEDIAN agency for the Association for the Child and Family and the Platform for Social Housing.

According to 71 % of respondents, a law on social housing should be adopted. The respondents slightly differ, however, when it comes to the powers they believe municipalities should have for assessing housing shortage and approaching various target groups for social housing.

The current bill on social housing, designed by the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry in collaboration with the Czech Regional Development Ministry and the Czech Human Rights Minister, would require the leasing of social apartment units on a priority basis to vulnerable population groups such as domestic violence victims, families with children, people living with disabilities, senior citizens, single mothers, and young people aging out of children's homes. The introduction of a legal obligation for municipalities to arrange rental housing for such population groups has high support among the public.

Single mothers received the most support for entitlement to social housing (88 %), domestic violence victims were supported by 86 % of respondents, children aging out of children's homes received 85 % support, people living with disabilities 84 % support, families with children 79 % and senior citizens 75 %. "Czech society is aware that vulnerable persons primarily need aid instead of there being constant arguments over whether they deserve assistance, or whether they contributed to creating their own situations. If somebody is run over by a car, we don't stand over that person and argue over whether he looked both ways before crossing the street - we just call him a ambulance," said Platform for Social Housing chair Štěpán Ripka.

"The poll demonstrates that a law on social housing is supported by voters across the political spectrum. Voters of different parties might have different visions about its details, but the existence of social housing is not viewed as either a left-wing or right-wing agenda, rather as a matter of public interest that brings voters of all parties together," said Daniel Prokop of the Median agency.

The idea that a law on social housing should exist in some form is shared, according to the poll, by about 80 % of ANO voters, Czech Christian Democratic (KDU-ČSL) voters, and Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) voters, by approximately 73 % of right-wing voters (Civic Democratic Party - ODS, TOP 09) and by 70 % of  those who vote for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM). "The public is sending the politicians a clear signal:  We want a law on social housing. If the Government does not approve the law by the end of January and the law does not become a clear priority in the negotiations in Parliament, then the Government won't fulfill either its campaign promises or one of the key points of its program declaration. At a time when we have a budget surplus, it is not possible to cut the promised investment into the social housing system," Ripka said.

Respondents to the survey also assessed what kinds of powers a municipality should have to award social housing compared to the state administration. Almost one- third would let the assessment of tenant eligibility be absolutely in the hands of the municipalities.

According to 37 % of respondents, the state should establish the criteria for target groups entitled to housing, but the rest of the assessment should be done by the municipality. The remaining respondents support the idea of binding rules for assessing housing need country-wide.

The full findings of the representative survey by the MEDIAN agency, including in graphic form, can be found on the wesbite The wesbite also contains specific information about the law on social housing, the arguments for its adoption, the stories of persons in need, and messages of support from famous figures, including their video messages, etc.

Infographics summarizing the main message of the poll are also available there. The graphics can be found in interactive form here.

The poll was implemented by the MEDIAN agency using a sample of 752 respondents aged 18 and older, one that is representative with respect to age, education, gender, previous voting record, region, size of municipality in which the respondent resides, and work status. The survey took place from 7 December 2016 until 6 January 2017 through a method inovlving in-person questioning by trained interviewers using an electronic questionnaire (CAPI).

Platform for Social Housing

The Platform for Social Housing is a group of experts, non-governmental, non-profit organizations and representatives of the public dedicated to the subject of human rights and social housing. The Platform responds to the long-term absence of a meaningful, systematic approach to the issue of social housing in the Czech Republic.

dm, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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