One in eight Czechs worry about keeping a roof over their head

A new survey says housing problems which have escalated due to the pandemic, could be solved with better govt. policy.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger Published on 26.11.2020 15:52:00 (updated on 26.11.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

According to a survey on housing affordability by Caritas Czech Republic and the Catholic Church, only four percent of people polled think that housing in the Czech Republic is easily accessible. One in eight respondents fear that they will have to leave their current home in the next 12 months, and in the case of rental apartments, the number is one in four.

The poll, carried out in September and October this year, asked 1,019 respondents over 18 years of age about their housing concerns. The survey asserts that some problems which have escalated due to the pandemic could be solved by a well-thought-out municipal housing policy, others by the long-awaited law on affordable and social housing. Also, while poor people are at risk of losing rental housing and moving to so-called substandard housing, the better-off fear the impossibility of repaying a mortgage or having to sell their property.

"People's concerns about the loss of housing reflect the loss of their income in connection with the current [COVID] situation. This will be a burning issue for the coming months. By the end of October this year, 270,000 families had postponed loan repayments with banks, and many people had also agreed with apartment owners to defer rent. But starting November they must start repaying, which will be a problem for many of them."

However, it is not just people in rental housing who are currently in trouble. People with mortgages are also at risk, a third of those are living on their own. Almost one in ten of them postponed mortgage payments this year.

"Low-income families in particular are now at greater risk of losing their homes, which is likely to be felt after the New Year. This is one of the reasons why we should definitely not underestimate the concerns of a quarter of the population renting, "says Lukáš Curylo, Director of Caritas Czech Republic.

"Long-term problems are largely caused by repeated postponement of municipal housing construction. Caritas has been calling for the completion and approval of this law, which would provide vulnerable groups, such as single-parent families, seniors, people with disabilities and young families, with quality and affordable housing, and it is really high time to implement it," Curylo continued.

The survey showed that people from all different economic and social groups feel and report the same concerns. Almost one third of people are worried about where they will live when they get old. More than half are convinced that their children will have a problem finding housing.

Overall, respondents say the availability of housing in the Czech Republic is very poor. A total of 71 percent think that housing is not easily accessible, with Prague and Central Bohemia the worst. Only 26 percent of respondents consider housing to be affordable in their municipality compared to 33 percent in the country as a whole. The fact that people rate the situation around them worse, shows the urgency of the problem.

Causes and possible solutions

In addition to real estate speculation (79 percent) and slow housing construction (77 percent), respondents see the reasons for deteriorating housing affordability in the shortage of municipal housing (77 percent) and in the so-called poverty trade (76 percent). At the same time, the lack of municipal housing is considered a fundamental problem by half of those who think that housing in their municipality is poorly accessible, 64 percent consider the absence of a law on affordable and social housing to be a problem, and a third of respondents even see this as a fundamental problem.

Survey participants were also asked what could improve the current situation. Sixty-nine percent of people would support housing construction throughout the country, 65 percent would support the adoption of a law guaranteeing affordable housing for vulnerable groups, the same percentage of people would support social housing for people in need and 62 percent the development of cooperative housing.

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