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To a dignified life
Council Iustitia et Pax on living and accomodation conditions
“Accomodation has always constituted one of the most essential needs of a man. It’s a duty of every modern society to provide - in particular socially weak, handicaped and elderly people - with an adequate period of time to harmonize their living conditions with financial possibilities, so that they wouldn’t feel trapped in a desperate life situation and their human dignity could be maintained”. With these words, the Council Iustitia et Pax of the Czech bishops’ conference, addresses all responsible authorities, involved institutions and individuals in regard to a serious situation associated with worsening conditions of living and accomodation in the country and resulting in a rapid increase of number of applicants for social benefits since the beginning of 2012.
Natural environment. Statement of the Council points to the fact that the process of deregulation of rent started in Czech republic with significant delay in 2007, when flats with regulated rent were occupied by about 1.7 million inhabitants, mostly seniors. A six-year cycle of too fast deregulation, worsened by economic recession and difficult financial situation of many households, enters its final phase this year. The impact of deregulation is evident especially in large city aglomerations and it’s not rare to see that the rent is three or four times higher than it was five years ago in some localities. And what is more, a new Civil Code, due to take effect in 2014, will enable another rise of rent. “For many people to move and change accomodation to a cheaper one would mean complications”, reads the statement signed by president of the Council Iustitia et Pax, Mons. Václav Malý, pointing to the fact that a change of job opportunities, interpersonal relations and social background built over years could mean “a fatal eradication from the people’s natural environment”. Not to mention that capacities of small flats with lower rent are insufficient. Currently, the situation is solved through applications for social benefits, but this possibility is open only until the finalization of the deregulation process. It’s estimated that critical situation is faced by up to 2,000 households in Prague and about the same number in other regions of the country.
Joint responsibility. “It seems that the most reasonable solution would be to establish a system of state benefits for stabilization of rental accomodation for respective social groups”, recommends the statement. Financial contribution would be provided for a transition period to every household in need and would be gradually reduced, with intention to force its recipients to make an effort to solve their situation actively. This process would require millions of Czech crowns every year that could be covered by state in cooperation with municipalities which - thanks to income from taxes - profit from high concentration of economically active inhabitants. “We don’t presume that the state is obliged to guarantee accomodation or employment to all its citizens, regardless their own efforts”, continues the Council Iustitia et Pax. “We understand that prices of all services, including accomodation, should cover the providers’expenses and bring an adequate profit. We also understand the caution associated with examination of all public expenses in economically difficult periods of time. But on the other side - we are Christians and in this regard we believe that accomodation belongs to basic needs of people”, reads the statement, affirming that sensitive approach of institutions in charge contributes to an atmosphere in the society, where the frustration and panic fear of future have no place. Such approach nurses a sense of reliability that “permanent care for dignity of every human being” stands at the centre of all necessary reforms. All this creates a favourable environment where “every citizen has a chance to contribute do joint responsibility for benefit and good of all people, to execute principles of social teaching of the Church rising from the Gospel, which offers a real hope for dignified and full-value life”.