Yet another Czech town bans housing benefits, opposition politician and Romani NGO object
News server Denik.cz reports that the City of Ústí nad Labem has approved a motion by the municipality of Trmice to forbid distribution of state housing benefits to persons newly resident on its territory. Through this measure, Trmice wants to limit any potential increase in the number of its residents who are dependent on welfare.
Currently state housing benefits are banned in several localities of Ústí nad Labem, and in June City Hall requested that the measure be applied to its entire territory, which should take effect on 26 November unless the decision is appealed. "We have found out that speculators are buying single-family homes on our territory and renting them to people who are dependent on welfare. This is happening in locations where originally no such persons were residing. That is what we want to prevent," Mayor Jana Oubrechtová (Mayors and Independents - STAN) told the daily.
According to the mayor, residents currently drawing housing benefits will continue to receive them. "We just want to limit the influx of newcomers who are dependent on welfare," the mayor said for Denik.cz.
The Romani association Romano Jasnica, which works in Trmice, is criticizing this step. "The city has decided and we do not know what impact this will have on invalids, senior citizens and single mothers. We do not know whether this might affect, for example, people who decide to relocate just because they need an apartment of a different size," director Martin Cichý told the daily.
Local opposition politician and Romani community member Martin Bajger (FOR! Trmice - PRO! Trmice) also disagrees with the measures. "Ordinary people are those who will be beaten down by this the most. The opposition is meeting about this and will attempt to come up with a plan. Personally I do not believe this measure will solve this problem. My concern is that the standard of living among impoverished people does not decline further. Maybe this measure will at least prevent the abuse [of the benefit], but only a proper law against these traffickers in poverty can aid the situation," Bajger told Denik.cz.
Such "zones with increased incidence of undesirable phenomena" where new applicants will not be entitled to housing benefits have been already declared or are in the process of being declared by 88 municipalities and towns in 12 regions. In the spring 71 towns and villages already had or were planning to declare such benefit-free zones.
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