Prague hotels, hostels to house hundreds of homeless people until 2021

Officials hope the move will get the homeless on their feet again

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 18.06.2020 09:46 (updated on 18.06.2020)

For the past several months, homeless people in Prague have been staying in hotels across the city to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Now that the pandemic is slowing down across the country, city officials are extending the pilot program to 2021 to help hundreds of homeless people get back on their feet, according to a report in Lidovky.cz.

Prague City Council is covering the cost of rent, operating, food, and hygiene for select hotels so they can stay open as an asylum for the homeless enrolled in the program — through the coronavirus crisis and beyond. Prague City Council is also liable for any damages.

“It was originally a crisis measure to prevent infection among the homeless. But it occurs to me that we can use this as an opportunity and help people solve longer-term problems, get off the streets, ” Adam Zábranský, Councilor for Housing and Transparency, told Lidovky.cz.

The program, which has a number of sick and elderly homeless people enrolled, has had a number of visible benefits, said Zábranský. For example, the health of the guests has improved.

Since staying in the hotels, many of the homeless people using the program have begun using social services available to them as well, according to Jiří Judy, the director of the humanitarian organization Maltézská Pomoc. The organization is working with the city on the housing project. The services include programs to help homeless people find work.

“Everyone loves it here,” said Zuzana Hančaríková, who is staying at Czech Inn Hostel in Vršovice. “We get a hot lunch, we have coffee and tea here, they regularly bring us clean sheets, we can wash in the laundry room.”

A room at the Czech Inn Hostel in Vrsovice / via Facebook @CzechInnPrague

Guests like Zuzana are not the only ones grateful for the program. The hotels and hostels involved in the program told Lidovky.cz that the pilot program has helped them pay their employees and earn some money. The Czech Inn Hostel, for example, would have likely shuttered during the crisis had it not been for the program to house the homeless, said Babeta Schneiderová, director of the BOHO CO hotel network, which owns Czech Inn Hostel.

“Reservations are not starting to rise dizzying yet, I do not expect an increase until the spring of 2021. This is a way for us to survive the period when guests do not travel. We hoped that the cooperation would be extended, “she told Lidovky.cz.

Some hotels, however, may not want to extend their contracts for a variety of reasons, city officials said. Authorities will search for new hotels to fill the gap.

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The plan, said Zábranský, is to gradually move the homeless guests from hotels to other types of housing options. There will be other changes as the program moves forward as well. For example, the city will no longer cover the cost of food.

Extending this housing plan until March 2021 will require approximately 2.4 million crowns a month, according to Lidovky.cz. In addition, an additional one million crowns will be used to pay for staff at the hotel receptions and sanitary equipment.

However, as some guests chose to leave the accommodation, the actual cost of the program will decrease. Guests are also claiming social benefits to cover some of their costs as well.

There are more than 3,200 homeless people living in Prague, according to a census by the Research Institute of Labor and Social Affairs last April. A third of those people sleep on the street, and others use various social services or temporary accommodations.

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