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Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic: Housing conditions alarming

Hodonín , 10.8.2012 19:01, (ROMEA)

The Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic (Celostátní asociace Romů České republiky, o.s.) has issued a statement on the situation in Ostrava's Přednádraží street. News server Romea.cz publishes it in full translation below:

We have been attentively following the situation regarding the eviction of 200 residents from the derelict buildings on Přednádraží street in Ostrava-Přívoz. We call on the representatives of the municipal department to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

We call on the municipal department to ensure all of the residents of these buildings temporary accommodation in residential hotels. We also call on them to further assign adequate housing in the department to those tenants who have met their contractual obligations.

The current situation - not just in Ostrava, but also in other towns in the Czech Republic - demonstrates the alarming state of affairs in the area of housing policy for low-income groups. The inaccessibility of housing for people in material distress keeps socially excluded people in the vicious circle of poverty. Given their poor socioeconomic situations, most Romani families with children cannot purchase their own housing and therefore use either rental housing or the accommodation at overpriced residential hotels. At the same time, it is very difficult for Romani families to rent housing through real estate offices, even in cases where they are legally employed and can afford to pay rent. Many Romani families are therefore forced into residential hotels or unfinished apartments on the outskirts of towns with little or no access to services. Most of these arrangements are apartment buildings or houses that never received final approval from the Building Works Authority for occupancy and are hazardous to human health. This state of affairs is alarming.

We call on the Government of the Czech Republic to start taking the issue of housing for persons in material distress very seriously. It is fundamentally necessary to develop a law on social housing that will specifically and systematically legislate the state's position as well as the liability of towns and villages in the area of housing policy and persons at risk of social exclusion. The law should define a target group of such persons, define a minimum housing standard, and create the legal framework for the creation of an apartment fund for social housing purposes.

Experience from practice and research indicates that a lack of housing options and the subsequent migration of families with children is a significant barrier to their entry into the open labor market. It is also a barrier to children's success in school and higher education. The area of housing is one of the most troubled in the life of Romani communities in the Czech Republic.

Gwendolyn Albert, Leadership of the Statewide Association of Romani People in the Czech Republic (Vedení Celostátní asociace Romů České republiky, o.s.), translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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