10,000 Refugees Face Housing Crisis as Czech Republic Implements Changes to Support System

The Czech Republic is bracing for a potential housing crisis as changes to the support system for refugees are set to leave thousands without housing from July onwards. Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (STAN) acknowledged the situation during an interview on Czech Television’s Vaclav Moravec’s Questions. He revealed that preparations were underway to address the impending crisis, with regional integration centers and non-profit organizations expected to play a crucial role in providing assistance.

According to official figures as of 18th June, there were 344,800 individuals from Ukraine holding temporary protection visas in the Czech Republic. However, support for refugees will undergo significant changes starting next month. A document from the Labor Ministry, as reported by Seznam Zpravy, indicates that between 38,000 and 50,000 people could lose their temporary housing due to these changes.

Minister Rakusan estimated that around 10,000 refugees would require immediate care and support. Under the new system, the state will cover emergency accommodation expenses for a duration of five months for refugees who are eligible to work. After this period, refugees will be responsible for their own accommodation costs or will need to find alternative housing. Only children, pensioners, and individuals with disabilities will continue to receive free accommodation.

Additionally, the solidarity allowance, which provided financial support to individuals who housed newcomers in their homes or spare flats, will cease from July. From now on, only refugee households with incomes below the living wage and specific housing cost thresholds set by the government will be eligible for the humanitarian benefit.

The impending changes have raised concerns about the well-being of pre-retirement refugees who may struggle to find employment. Minister Rakusan assured that plans and strategies were being developed to mitigate the challenges they may face. Regional integration centers and non-profit organizations will collaborate to provide necessary assistance.

Currently, approximately 1,400 refugees are staying in state facilities, while another 70,000 are residing in emergency accommodation facilities across the country, with an additional 40,000 in solidarity households, as reported by Daniel Prokop, a member of the government’s National Economic Council.

The Labor Ministry has warned of the potential for severe housing shortages and mass departures back to Ukraine due to the lack of available flats and high rental prices. Municipalities are likely to bear the brunt of the impact caused by this situation.

Jan Mrackova Vildumetzova, the lower house deputy speaker from ANO, expressed concerns that the number of individuals without housing could exceed 50,000, placing an immense burden on towns and villages. She criticized the government for approving the new calculation of the humanitarian benefit amounts so close to the implementation date.

In response to the impending crisis, European Affairs Minister Martin Dvorak (STAN) and Radek Vondracek (ANO), the head of the lower house constitutional-legal committee, engaged in a heated debate on CNN regarding the form of aid. Vondracek claimed that “migration tourism” was out of control and accused refugees of coming to the Czech Republic solely for benefits. Dvorak countered these claims, stating that the opposition was trying to exploit nationalist sentiments and “attack the lower levels of the human psyche.”

As the Czech Republic grapples with the potential housing crisis, urgent measures and collaborative efforts will be necessary to address the immediate needs of the affected refugees and ensure their well-being in the face of significant changes to the support system.

Article by Prague Forum

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