Mar 20, 2024

Poverty Is Rising in Czechia, Especially in Relation to Housing Costs

Poverty and indebtedness are on the rise in the Czech Republic, according to the Caritas Cares 2023 report published today.

The most at-risk groups are single mothers, the long-term unemployed, the elderly, and people with mental health problems, and the worsening situation is most evident in housing, according to the report.

Caritas CR is the largest provider of social services for the needy in the Czech Republic. It publishes reports on the social situation in the country every two years.

This time it focused on poverty and the associated lack of affordable housing, access to services and long-term care, and debt. The report is based on research carried out last June and July in its counselling centres, shelters and other facilities.

Indebtedness still affects a significant number of the country’s inhabitants; clients of Caritas counselling centres often fail to meet their obligations due to high levels of debt, and many cannot enter debt relief at all due to insufficient income, Caritas said. According to Iva Kuchynkova, the Caritas social manager, wages are also declining due to the post-COVID period, and many people are in debt due to rising energy prices.

On average, 70% of clients of its counselling centres are burdened with at least one case of debt collection proceedings, according to Caritas’s findings. “We have seen a 30% increase in the number of clients over the past year,” Kuchynkova said.

In addition to distraint, Kuchynkova said people are often affected by the phenomenon of working poverty, where they are unable to earn a proper living by working.

In this case, welfare benefits should help, but in the current system, Kuchynkova said, there are many limits, such as insufficient income or late payments.

Among other things, the negative housing situation stems from indebtedness. According to the Caritas report, there are currently 150,000 people in housing need in the Czech Republic, and up to 1.6 million people are at some form of risk of losing their housing. About 70% of the clients of the Caritas services had problems affording housing costs.

According to Caritas, clients of its services often came forward to say that they were facing a lack of capacity in social services. “In order not to decrease the quality of care provided in social services, it is necessary to map the availability of services and their capacity, and to supplement or expand the missing services in localities as needed,” Caritas said.

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