Trafficking in poverty costing the Czech state a billion a month, speculators profiting
News server iDNES.cz reports that the volume of state benefits paid out to subsidize housing for the impoverished in the Czech Republic grew during the past year by one-fourth and the owners of residential hotels have been profiting in particular from the subsidies. Local governments are reportedly doing their best to restrict this trafficking in poverty by buying out such facilities or by offering the recipients of housing benefits the opportunity to live in "training apartments".
It is costing the state more and more to help impoverished people find housing in the Czech Republic. State expenditures on such efforts have risen sharply and private real estate owners are the main beneficiaries.
During the first half of this year, the amount the Czech state disbursed for housing benefits grew by 24 % year-on-year. On average more than a billion crowns monthly are being spent on them.
The number of such housing benefit beneficiaries has risen by 40 000. The aid is often sent to socially excluded ghettos that are mainly inhabited by Romani people.
Housing problems, however, also concern a continually rising number of working people from the white majority. "The number of working poor who cannot afford housing is rising," warns Martin Šimáček, director of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion.
Those most at risk are senior citizens or single mothers. Financial support for access to housing in the Czech Republic, however, is exceptionally badly organized.
Because many municipalities previously sold off the housing stock they once held to private owners en masse, today they don't have enough public housing available for the socially vulnerable. Impoverished people, therefore, often seek housing from private landlords.
Residential hotels, which are inappropriate for families and are often poorly equipped or never maintained, are the most expensive of all. As last year's analysis by the Life Together (Vzájemné soužití) civic association from Ostrava describes, a six-member family will pay a total of CZK 24 000 for an unit in such a facility that is not even 19 meters square.
Privately-owned apartments are also expensive. "Rent in a municipally-owned three-bedroom apartment in our town would cost about CZK 6 000 a month, but comparable privately-owned apartments here would rent for twice that," says Mayor of Rumburk Jaroslav Trégr.
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