Roma residents of "container" housing face eviction in the Czech Republic
In October 2006, several families were evicted by the town of Vsetín and moved into "container" housing in the Poschla locality, where their living situations have become even more complicated. Now news server iDNES.cz reports that the Vsetín town hall says the families owe them a total of CZK 13 million in back rent and will be evicted unless they pay up. The 2006 deportations were performed by the town hall under the leadership of Jiří Čunek, who is currently a Czech Senator.
"They wouldn't agree to a payment schedule. They told me I have to move out," said Veronika Dunová, who lives in a two-room apartment in one "container" together with seven other family members.
"We have to step up their payments," said Vice-Mayor Vsetína Květoslava Othová, adding that current payments are very low and it could take decades for the debt to be paid off. The town wants to concluded new, finite leases with the tenants which will include a so-called "collections record" the town hall can use to file for the tenants' eviction should they not pay off their debt.
However, news server iDNES.cz warns that the tenants, who are often unemployed, have no money with which to pay off the debts. Moreover, they are complaining that it is expensive for them to live in the "containers". "I pay CZK 8 000 a month for rent and power and I'm supposed to pay off my debt too? I don't know where that money is going to come from," Dunová said. "They didn't show us where we were going when they moved us here. I burst into tears the first time I saw it. In the winter, water runs down the inside walls, we have wet carpets, mold everywhere," she claims.
The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion in Roma Localities agrees with the tenants' complaints. The Agency says the moving of Roma families from their previous housing in the town center and out of Vsetín altogether was an expensive, unsuitable experiment that has had catastrophic repercussions for the evicted families. A recent Agency study fiercely condemned the relocation of Roma families from Vsetín to the Jeseníky and Prostějov districts. At the time 70 evicted tenants were not given places in the "container" housing on the town outskirts, but were moved into different administrative districts.
"The town's approach has had catastrophic results for these families. Their social situations have deteriorated and they are all facing collections and eviction," Agency spokesperson Václav Zeman warned. The Agency intends to present the case of Vsetín as an example of what towns should not do.
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