Prague, July 11 (CTK) – People’s widespread opinion that Roma inhabitants prevail in the Czech socially-excluded localities, or ghettos, is not always true any more, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Tuesday in an article highlighting recent changes in the ghettos and their population.
In the 10.5-million Czech Republic, some 115,000 inhabitants live in socially-excluded localities, of which there are 606 in 297 towns, according to an analysis the GAC agency completed for the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry in 2014, the daily writes.
“Social exclusion is a dynamic phenomenon that has been changing. That is why we, together with other institutions, want to start its regular monitoring that would flexibly react to the changes,” the paper quotes Klara Mala, from the Government agency for social inclusion, as saying.
The daily compares the GAC data with a previous study from 2006, when GAC visited 178 towns, finding more than 300 “ghettos” with a total of 80,000 inhabitants.
The study included a map headlined “Roma ghettos.”
“The number of socially-excluded localities has doubled since 2005. The number of the people living in them has risen by a half,” Petr Vasat, from the Science Academy’s Sociological Institute, is quoted as saying.
He said more and more dwellers from the non-Roma majority population in the given localities have been trapped in social exclusion because the prices of real estate have been falling there while the infrastructure and services are poor.
The situation has deteriorated not only in the north of the country, an area that is most infamous for its numerous ghettos.
According to the latest information, almost 39,000 people live in socially-excluded localities in the Usti Region, north Bohemia, and 23,000 in the Moravia-Silesia Region.
The number of ghettos has risen most sharply in the Karlovy Vary Region, west Bohemia – from 18 in 2006 to 61 in 2014, the LN writes.
Roma population still prevails in more than a half of the ghettos, it writes.
“This proves that ethnic discrimination continues in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, a current trend must be mentioned – a sharp rise in the number of [private-run] dormitories’ inhabitants including non-Roma people,” Vasat said.
Such disadvantageous conditions have also been more and more often faced by migrant workforce, low-income people including families with children and old people from the majority society, the paper writes.
In the excluded localities, most people (40 percent) live in flats hired from private owners. The number of those renting municipal flats has been declining. A large portion of locals live in the dormitories run by private owners, where the housing conditions are especially disadvantageous, the daily writes.
Those socially deprived tend to change their residence often, but they no longer move to remote areas as in the past.
“Most of them move from one locality to another with their home town or its surroundings,” Mala said.
They move once a year on average, mostly because water has stopped running or mould appeared on the walls of their current flat. Resettlement does not automatically improve their housing conditions, however, Vasat said.
Before 2009, the mushrooming of ghettos was largely influenced by local politics.
The authorities simply moved certain people to such localities. In 2009, the state introduced housing benefits, which ‘dealers with poverty’ used to start their business, Vasat said, alluding to the practice where the dormitories’ owners often set the rent prices and rake their clients’ housing benefits that make up to 90 percent of the rent.
“I met some town councillors who underestimated this phenomenon. Only after the given locality became problematic, they found out what actually happened,” Vasat told LN.
At present, socially excluded localities tend to emerge in the countryside as a result of the increasing real estate prices and the departure of young and educated people to cities, the daily writes.
“In the past, more than a half of all [excluded] localities emerged as a result of [people’s] natural moving in search of cheaper life and housing opportunities. At present, however, we can see the trend of large excluded localities disintegrating into smaller units,” Mala said, adding that this trend is desirable and helps tackle the problem of ghettos.
Mala said the phenomenon of a “socially excluded locality” is fading out now. More and more such localities are typical of “a higher share of socially excluded people,” while a majority of locals do not suffer from social exclusion, she said.
According to Vasat, a quality job offer is one of the crucial ways to improve the situation in the deprived localities, where many inhabitants have been permanently jobless and are not accustomed to work.
In the first phase, the people are offered a short-time job and then public beneficial work, before they are offered a standard work position on the labour market, Vasat said.
Another crucial thing is the social housing bill prepared by the government, LN writes, citing experts.