More than 28,500 people are currently using state-funded emergency accommodation for war refugees from Ukraine. On Wednesday, senators will decide on a package of changes to Lex Ukraine VI, which, in addition to extending temporary protection for another year, also deals with the future of emergency accommodation.
Newly from September 2024, the state for refugees will pay for accommodation in non-residential premises, such as dormitories or boarding houses and hostels, only for new arrivals, and only for 90 days after the granting of temporary protection. Currently, the state pays for accommodation for 150 days.
At the same time, the new regulation also completely cancels the exception for so-called vulnerable persons, which includes children and students under the age of 26, mothers taking care of small children, seniors or people with disabilities.
Specifically: in Prague, according to the HUMPO system, 3,022 people are currently staying in emergency accommodation, of which 2,891 have been staying for more than 150 days, and are therefore vulnerable people. They, too, will drop out of the state-funded emergency accommodation system in September of next year.
“This means that all persons who complete the period of 90 days on September 1, 2024, will have to leave emergency accommodation or, in agreement with the accommodation provider, switch to a standard contractual regime, i.e. pay for accommodation from their own funds,” reads the explanatory memorandum of the amendment proposal deputy Petr Letochy (STAN), who enforced stricter rules.
“Initially, it should be said that it was consulted with the Ministry of the Interior. It was about the fact that, over time, we have to level the playing field for everyone who came to us, and whom we helped quite significantly from the beginning and continue to help,” the MP explains to Nauzal.
In the explanatory report, he calculates that an average of 2,000 to 2,500 applicants for temporary protection arrive in the Czech Republic per week. Of these, 260 to 320 people go to emergency accommodation.
Instead of lower tens of thousands of people, emergency accommodation will be maintained for roughly a thousand people if the current trend continues.
A higher dose should help the vulnerable
At the same time, MP Petr Letocha assures that the Czech Republic will take care of vulnerable people. “We have confirmation from Minister Jurečka that he will continue to place great emphasis on this. It shouldn’t be a message to these people that they have anything to worry about. The Czech Republic will certainly take care of them,” states the deputy.
The so-called humanitarian benefit will remain the main form of support for war refugees. And it is expected that the part of the humanitarian benefit that goes to housing will increase for vulnerable people. The exact form of the increase is currently being discussed and the amount of 4,800 crowns per month per person is being worked on.
As part of emergency accommodation, the state pays private accommodation providers 350 crowns per person per day. “Reimbursement in emergency accommodation for hostels is higher than how part of the humanitarian benefit for accommodation will increase,” Magda Faltová, director of the Association for Integration and Migration, describes the core of the concerns.
“No one examines what change will do”
She talks about the fact that she understands that hostels are paid large sums by the state, on the other hand, according to her, no one is investigating what will happen after the rules are changed. “If people will be able to keep their accommodation, or if some of the residents will leave and it will mean that they will not be able to find housing,” he says.
Commissioner for Human Rights and National Coordinator for Adaptation and Integration of Refugees from Ukraine Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková emphasizes that emergency accommodation is not suitable for long-term stays.
“In many cases, these are classic hostels unsuitable for small children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups,” he says. He notes that Lex Ukraine will motivate people to look for permanent housing.
He admits, however, that managing the transfer of 28,000 people to ordinary housing within eight months is a challenge. “We know that in many localities it is not easy to find suitable housing at an affordable price, moreover, from the feedback so far, it follows that part of the holders of temporary protection stay in emergency accommodation rather because they do not know how to find housing and process the documents themselves, another part in collective accommodation uses mutual assistance, for example babysitting,” says Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková.