Initiative launched by Prague 1 municipality aims to curb depopulation of district

The Municipal District of Prague 1 recently launched an initiative to help residents of the area deal with common problems. The aim is to curb depopulation and reassure residents of the area that the heart of the city is in fact a comfortable place to live for locals and families, and is not just a reserve for tourists.

Prague | Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

Living in the heart of Czechia’s capital may sound like a fairy tale to some, but the reality of renting a flat in the city’s Prague 1 district can be far from idyllic for its residents. Astronomical rents, dealing with a rotation of people coming in from Airbnbs, and the noise of rowdy tourists on the street has led to an exodus from the city centre.

In an effort to reduce the depopulation of Prague 1, the local authorities have launched a new effort called ‘Contact Point’, with the aim of providing citizens with information, support, and guidance regarding housing in the area. Karolína Šnejdarová, spokesperson for Prague 1, told me more.

Airbnb | Photo: cottonbro,  Pexels,  CC0 1.0 DEED

“The most important thing for us is to be able to provide for the people who are living in the area. We don’t want them to leave, so we are trying to help them if they have any problems with their housing. Whether they are having a conflict with a neighbour, or can’t afford their place anymore – we try to help them find different housing in Prague 1.”

One of the common complaints the district receives from its residents is about flats that are used as Airbnb’s, which sends a number of tourists – some more rowdy than others, into the residential buildings for short stays.

“There are a lot of things that can drive residents away. People who own houses or apartments here tend to rent them out to Airbnb or booking websites because they can make a lot of money off of it, and tend to live in other parts of the city that are cheaper. We are dealing with Airbnb a lot because it creates problems – there are a lot of tourists that make noise when they come here on vacation, and it’s not good for people who live in the area.”

Contact Point | Photo: Prague 1

But it’s not just helping tenants deal with noise complaints from tourists that the Contact Point is dealing with. As Karolína explained, another common problem facing community members is affordability, which heavily impacts seniors.

“The most common case we get is with seniors who don’t have the money for their rent anymore. This is a huge struggle, and a horrible thing – there is no easy way to figure it out. We have six houses in Prague 1, and we can house them there because we have the capacity for this. We are helping them out and are very pleased with how it’s going so far.”

Another goal of the Contact Point project is to bring new life into the neighbourhood – but that can be a hard task when many young people are outpriced by the available flats. But as Karolína explained, the municipality is working on a solution that will bring younger residents to Prague 1.

“We are now building a house on Černá Street, which will be a starting house for young people in Prague 1. When they want to move out of their parents’ house, they can. It’s simple housing, but it’s a great opportunity for them to try and live alone.”

Contact Point | Photo: Prague 1

More than anything, the goal of Contact Point is to retain the residents of Prague 1 and keep the neighbourhood a safe and welcoming place for people to live and thrive. Karolína told me why this is important.

“We don’t want to be a district of Prague that only has tourists and shops that cater to them. We want to be a place where people want to live and can live. We have a lot of parks and schools, and it would be a shame if it just became a scam zone for tourists.”

The Contact Point was launched in February of this year and can be found on the ground floor of the Municipal Office of Prague 1.