City plans new low-cost housing

Prague has not built new flats in a decade but that will change

Prague has a shortage of housing for teachers, police officers, young people and the homeless. Constructing new low-cost housing could cost up to Kč 4 billion crowns. The addition of new flats could cause a drop in the price of apartments in Prague.

The city is aware of the lack of low-cost housing and is currently looking for land to build new social housing on. One likely location is Černý Most. A list of suitable sites for low-cost housing should be ready by the end of the year.

Critics say that the city lacks a coordinated approach to social housing and also has no policy to prevent the loss of housing. In the long term, there has been a diminishing number of city-owned apartments. Prague City Hall and the administrations of the city districts have been privatizing flats and not replacing them. This may pose a problem when a new law on social housing takes effect and the city will need apartments for those who are in the market and cannot afford them.

Social housing should be available to the elderly, single mothers, people with disabilities, young adults leaving orphanages and the homeless.

Cheaper housing should also be available for teachers, nurses or police officers. Roman Matoušek from the Agency for Social Inclusion (APSZ) said the salaries of those occupations are the same nationwide and are not sufficient to cover the high housing prices in Prague.

City Councilor Matěj Stropnický (Green), a member of the municipal committee for social housing, said the city would like to get an overview of the situation and also create a list of projects that had been done in the past. He added that the city should seek new urban concepts and not implement 10-year-old ideas. The design and functionality of the new projects should is essential, he added. He wants to see an architectural competition for each building. The city has not built a single apartment in 10 years, and the first new project has to convince the public that such a thing is necessary, Stropnický said.

Radek Lacko (ANO), a city councilor for housing, said that the city has already set aside Kč 3 billion in a fund for social housing. The fund gets revenue from the sale of municipal housing as well as from renting urban land and nonresidential spaces. Stropnický said the fund could reach Kč 4 billion by 2018.

Stropnický said low-cost housing would allow people with lower incomes to not have to spend the majority of their money on rent. Adding lower priced flats to the market would also benefit everyone on the housing market, he added. An architectural competition for the design of buildings should set a high standard for the architecture of new buildings, which could be reflected as well in new private developments.

How many apartments will be built is not clear. The city in particular lacks larger apartments, such as 3+1s. The city currently has some 9,000 flats under its management but 2,000 of them are already committed to eventually be sold.

Vienna addressed a similar problem of a lack of low-cost housing by creating neighborhoods of social apartments. Prague on the other hand plans to scatter the housing throughout the city so as not to create a ghetto.

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