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Czech PM meets with Platform for Social Housing

Prague, 16.12.2013 3:43, (ROMEA)
A 2013 demonstration by the Platform for Social Housing in front of Prague's main train station. The sign reads
A 2013 demonstration by the Platform for Social Housing in front of Prague's main train station. The sign reads "Social Housing - Right to a Home". (PHOTO: Jan Čonka)

Czech Prime Minister Rusnok has met with representatives of the Platform for Social Housing, which published an open letter in which it took a stand against the Social Housing Concept drafted by the Czech Regional Development Ministry, as well as against the early adoption of an amendment to the Law on Aid to Those in Material Distress. The PM expressed appreciation for the Platform's activity and promised its representatives that he would review the materials.  

Rusnok also declared that his government definitely will not support the ongoing boom of trafficking in poverty. The European umbrella organization working with homeless people, FEANTSA, has also warned the Czech PM in a separate letter that its experts disagree with the approach outlined in the Czech Government materials.  

As Štěpán Ripka of the Platform for Social Housing says, "We need to stop trafficking in poverty through the residential hotels and establish a system in which the state's housing policy provides an opportunity for people who lose their housing to obtain independent living arrangements and social inclusion. Today we already know of practices undertaken by nonprofit organizations and some municipalities that unequivocally work in this area. The Government's policy should be inspired by those practices in particular."

Prime Minister Rusnok stated that the aim of his government is not "to tunnel the European Union and state finances in order to traffic in poverty. Building residential hotels with EU money is nonsense, naturally, and I will determine whether the Social Housing Concept includes such options. The current system definitely is not ideal, state money is being tunneled to make it rain money for the residential hotel landlords."

According to Jan Milota, coordinator of the Platform for Social Housing, the Czech Republic needs "to establish a social housing framework that provides those who have no housing and who demonstrate an effort to obtain it the opportunity to access dignified housing according to their capacities and resources. The current wording of the Social Housing Concept is definitely not heading in that direction. We have attempted to warn [Regional Development] Minister Lukl of this too."

"I can imagine that we might leave the approval of these documents as they have been drafted up to the incoming government. I must now familiarize myself with them and with the comments of the Platform for Social Housing. I will convey my impressions from our conversation to the Regional Development Minister and I will ask him what his plans are for these materials," the outgoing PM said.

The Platform for Social Housing is a group comprised of 40 of the most significant providers of social housing and experts on the issue in the Czech Republic. Its members include the founder of the Naděje ("Hope") organization for homeless people, Ilja Hradecký, sociologist Libor Prudký, and Martin Potůček, an expert on these issues for the Social Democratic Party.    

František Kostlán, Štěpán Ripka, Jan Milota, Platform for Social Housing, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Housing, Platforma pro sociální bydlení, Politika, ubytovny, Jiří Rusnok



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