Without Support, a Number of Our Clients Would Continue to StrugglePublished: Sep 26, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Learn about how difficult it is for vulnerable groups of people, such as single women, to maintain stable housing and not fall into a dysfunctional welfare system that often completely excludes poor and indebted individuals from both the labor and housing markets. This insecure environment hits single-parent households with children especially hard and without the support of non-profit organizations and foundations, like People in Need, many people would simply continue struggling with no hope for a way out.
Martina Mikulčíková* sought our help in 2020, at a time when her partner was displaying repeated risky behavior around her daughter, Pavlínka. His struggle with addiction was putting Mrs. Mikulčíková health at risk and the family lost their house because of him. He also ruined the client’s new housing, as well as her potential job opportunities. In 2020, Martina decided that it was time for her and her daughter to leave her partner for good. However, they were not able to stay there very long, as her partner tracked them down at their new address and broke their window in rage, thus securing their immediate dismissal from that apartment, as well.
Without hesitation, we helped Martina find and secure housing with a private citizen without having to pay a deposit. We also helped suggested to Martina that we could help her pay rent though housing benefits organised by payment the Labour Office in the Czech Republic. She soon managed to find a new job.
We also focused on aiding the communication between Martina and the insolvency administrator, with whom she had ongoing insolvency issues and various liability problems due to the hostile behaviour of her ex-partner. Martina’s situation gradually got better and it was greatly helped by the fact that, from the very beginning, Martina had been very conscientious about her payment obligations in matters of insolvency, paying her rent, utilities etc. She communicated very openly and approached was very willing to work with us.
We also focused our effort on little Pavlínka by helping organise activities for her (visits to ZOO Plzeň, People in Need camp, etc.) and we also paid for an extracurricular club, which Pavlínka attended regularly and with great enthusiasm.
Current housing policy makes it difficult for vulnerable members of society to secure decent accommodation
Everything indicated that things would get better for Martina, but her situation changed again for the worse in May 2022 when she was made redundant at work. Around that same time, she also learned that her housing benefits had been suspended because, without her knowing, the landlord had not registered the apartment correctly with the Labour Office, meaning Martina would need to return all the reimbursed benefits she had received from them. It didn't take long before the landlord contacted Martina saying that he had decided to completely renovate the apartment and that she and her daughter would need to move out. He did not indicate whether they'd be allowed to return after the reconstruction but recommended that they leave as soon as possible.
We worked hard to find an apartment without a deposit, but this proved to be difficult. One landlord vetted our client and, when she found out that she was insolvent, the simply texted our client that she was not interested in housing insolvent tenants. We had hoped that the situation would soon be resolved by the severance Martina was set to receive from her previous employer, however, because this money only came into effect the following calendar month, it couldn't be used to help the family's current financial situation. Given that it was not possible to agree on a lower rate until the severance funds had actually been paid, it was necessary to cooperate with the real estate agency for help with financing. We got in touch with real estate agency, and the client had no choice but to find money to put down a deposit of 8,500 CZK (€ 345) and pay 12,100 CZK (€ 490) to the real estate office. She also had to begin to pay rent worth 8,500 CZK (€ 345), plus utilities and electricity worth roughly 3,300 CZK (€ 135).
Without delay, we got in contact with the Single Mothers Club Foundation (nadace Klub svobodných matek) for assistance with this. We asked for a housing grant of CZK 15,000 (€ 608), documenting all the facts up until now, and a testimonial from People in Need. The very next morning, we received a response: they had approved the grant in full. The money came immediately and the client was able to pay part of the initial costs. Martina's sheer joy about the fact that she was, once again able to live a normal, dignified life, was indescribable. She wrote to the Single Mothers Club and said, "I would like to thank the Single Mothers Club very much. Thanks to your Foundation, I can move with my daughter safely. It's a great feeling to know that me and my daughter have a home again. Thank you!" Our future cooperation with Martina will focus on finding her a job and a proper elementary school for her daughter.
*Name has been changed