Study: More than a quarter million people either homeless or facing housing crisis

More than a quarter of a million people in Czechia are currently either homeless or facing a housing crisis, according to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Experts believe that this number is likely to rise in the near future as the effects of the energy crisis become more apparent.

Naděje  (Hope) charity | Photo: ČT24

I’ve been living in an asylum home for almost a month now. I was on the street since the spring, living outside in a tent,” says a man in Prague’s Hlubočepy district who is waiting for a hot meal being handed out by the Naděje (Hope) charity.

He is one of at least 270,000 people who have been classified to be in a state of a housing crisis. Of this number around 12,000 are homeless, but many more are living in squalid conditions, residing either in lodging facilities, or flats infected by mould, without water or severely overcrowded. This according to a study commissioned earlier this year by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Its spokeswoman, Eva Davidová, discussed the study’s results with Czech Radio.

“Overall, it can be said that the number of people in a state of a housing emergency has not increased substantially when compared to previous periods. There has also been no sharp rise in the number of homeless people. However, the data were collected in the spring of this year and therefore do not reflect the current impact of the energy crisis.”

Daniel Svoboda | Photo: NADĚJE

According to Daniel Svoboda, the head of the Prague branch of Naděje, the charity is already registering a rise in its number of clients.

“Around 60 people become homeless every month. The people who are arriving were not homeless in the past. Often, they lived in lodging houses before, in shared or rented accommodation, but they no longer have the money to pay for these types of housing. This is because the rent prices in lodging facilities are also on the rise. They are coming in small numbers so far, but if the crisis continues we expect that their number will be higher next year.”

Many asylum homes and refuges are already reporting that they are at full capacity. Compared with statistics gathered three years ago, there are now more pensioners living in lodging facilities. Meanwhile, the number of families living in this type of accommodation has declined. Those belonging to the latter group are now most likely living in overcrowded flats, says Jan Klusáček, an analyst who works for the Za bydlení (For housing) initiative.

Jan Klusáček | Photo: Kateřina Cibulka,  Český rozhlas

“There are around 8,000 extremely overcrowded flats, where there are less than eight square metres per individual. 17,000 children live in this type of accommodation. I think that the people who live there were most likely pushed out of lodging facilities.”

The current ruling coalition has vowed to address the issue in the first two years of its term through new legislation that will focus on increasing the availability of housing, expanding rental housing as well as providing assistance in cases of housing emergencies. Known as the Housing support law (Zákon o podpoře bydlení), the legislation is being developed through a collaboration between the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Ministry for Regional Development.

One of the proposed measures, says Regional Development Ministry spokeswoman Veronika Hešíková, is to provide easier access to state guaranteed flats to those who are classified as in need of emergency housing and belong to the priority group that includes, for example, victims of domestic violence or endangered children.

“Such guarantees are intended both for private landlords as well as for municipalities so that they are more motivated to offer council housing to people who are most in need of them.”

The housing support law is planned to be discussed by the government in the second half of next year.

Authors: Thomas McEnchroe , Iva Vokurková , Hana Vincourová
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