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Vice-chair of Czech party says new social housing law unnecessary, Romani activist disagrees

23.2.2017 11:01
David Beňák (left) and Markéta Pekarová Adamová (right).
David Beňák (left) and Markéta Pekarová Adamová (right).

Czech MP Markéta Pekarová Adamová, the vice-chair of the opposition TOP 09 party, was a guest of Czech Radio's "Interview Plus" program on 16 February. During her appearance she expressed her reservations about the social housing bill that the current Government promised, in its program declaration, to approve.

"I am of the opinion that we do not need a social housing law," she said. "Currently, without one, we are able to provide housing to those who need it."

"We have a system of benefits, specifically, the housing contribution and the housing supplement, that aid people in need of housing," the MP said. She went on to claim that she believes the law has been drafted too broadly and might induce the creation of more excluded ghettos after tenants are evicted "who have a lower competence for housing, or who have no competence at all, which means they are incapable of upholding the basic rules of peaceful coexistence, are greatly in debt, and cannot be worked with in a quality way."

Czech MP proposes combining housing benefits and implementing a ceiling

The interviewer then asked whether the current system is a good one. The MP replied: "It's not good, but certainly the aim is not to demolish it and begin building something new."

"It would be better if we would do our best to amend the existing system. It is possible to mend it so it will be better, functional - and mainly, that would be much faster than adopting a new law," the TOP 09 MP said.

Adamová proposes combining the existing housing benefits into one. She would also impose improved terms on disbursing the housing supplement, which is now being applied for by people living in residential hotels in substandard conditions.

The MP said she wants to prevent the state from disbursing disproportionately high benefits in any given locality by creating a price map that would be binding for Labor Offices, which provide the benefits. She summarized her reservations about the new social housing law on her Facebook profile as well.

Adamová alleges that eligibility for a social apartment will now be set for "too broad" a group of persons and that "lowering the criteria for existing benefits will throw low-income working people into that category". She posted to Facebook that "The cost of building thousands of new apartment units is approximately CZK 150 billion [EUR 5.6 billion] and it cannot be assumed that the existing apartment capacity owned by municipalities would suffice."

David Beňák: Affordable housing is crucial for a broad section of the population

David Beňák, a bureaucrat who is also an activist and member of the Romani community, commented on the interview on his own Facebook profile as follows: "I agree that the creation of more socially excluded localities can be a danger if a municipality will lease apartments just in one building or location, and the elimination of that risk can be very expensive, i.e., it is necessary to build new units or buy them. However, I disagree that that law applies to too broad a target group. [...] I think we must all comprehend that affordable housing is crucial for a broad section of the population, and price thresholds should exist that can simply be dealt with. [...] It also wouldn't hurt to look at this from the perspective of those whose monthly income is far below that of the average wage."

The governing coalition has so far failed to promote the adoption of a social housing law. An estimated 200 000 people are in need of housing in the Czech Republic.

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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TOP 09, Ghetto, vyloučená lokalita, Zákon o sociálním bydlení



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