Nothing about us without us – housing in Usty nad Labem

ERGO Network today wrote a letter to the Social and Health Commission of the Municipality of Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic, concerning the housing situation of more than 200 inhabitants of two residential hotels, among them at least 80 children and most of them of Romani origin.

The news agency Romea writes:  “The inhabitants of two residential hotels in the Czech city of Ústí nad Labem that will close at the end of June still do not know where they will be moving. During their housing search they are encountering the need to pay deposits they cannot afford, as well as discrimination from landlords.  The Střekov Municipal Department wants to buy out the residential hotel on its territory, according to local mayor Eva Outlá (PRO!Ústí), who informed the Czech News Agency (ČTK) and Czech Radio of her plans. The tenants of both facilities allegedly learned last week from media reports that their current landlord will be closing up shop.”

The local Roma organisation Konexe describes the situation as follows:

“We have been using the community work and empowerment methods in the residential hotels intensively since Friday, 25 May. During that time, several meetings of tenants were held at both residential hotels, during which the people facing eviction have formulated their demands. These families are actually facing the pressure of a horrible situation. On the regular housing market they have almost no chance of finding apartments, there is an atmosphere of depression and hopelessness dominating the facilities. That is being passed on to the children there”.

ERGO Network is asking the municipality that a solution is found in dialogue with the target group. It is very important not to favor solutions that are not designed together with the people whose lives will be influenced by the decisions.  Local organizations, naturally, should play an important role in facilitating such contact and organizing a series of meetings. At those meetings solutions could be found that will satisfy all sides.

We are aware of the situation in the Czech Republic. Romani people face antigypsysm daily and their chances at being included in the fair housing market are almost zero. Nevertheless, the fact that Romani people do not have that opportunity and that they pay much higher rents to be accommodated in shocking conditions is something that must be underlined in this case. Who else besides City Hall and nonprofit organizations is able to give a helping hand with aiding the inclusion of these people onto the housing market?

Read the letter here in English or in Czech.

Read the full article of Romea about the situation in Usty nad Labem: