AN OPEN LETTER TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
We ask for urgent measures to ensure that no one in Croatia, due to the loss or reduction of income related to the situation caused by the worldwide pandemic, loses their home. We urge you to:
1. Immediately establish a moratorium on all evictions and foreclosures that may result in the loss of a primary home,
2. Stipulate that the banks, similar to what other countries already did, allow a moratorium (without penalties) on housing loan instalments on primary home during the epidemic crisis,
3. Allow that all the rental payments for the primary home be forgoed for those who have lost their income or their income has been reduced due to the spread of the epidemic, and
4. Urgently house all the homeless in empty public apartments owned by local municipalities and the Republic of Croatia
Croatia is the European champion in the number of short-term employment contracts of up to three months, and many people earn their monthly wages through various forms of self-employment, which usually means they do not have permanent wages but depend on occasional projects and temporary jobs that are now being largely canceled. The loss of income due to the cancellation of projects and jobs, as well as staying in necessary self-isolation with reduced or no income for all who cannot work from home will significantly affect the ability to pay for housing costs. From a public health perspective, it is unacceptable that people have to choose between their health and not losing their home.
In addition to the cost of housing that at the moment prevents many from putting theirs and the health of others before everything else, we need urgent solutions for those most vulnerable – homeless people who need to be provided with homes immediately. In Zagreb alone, according to the data of the City Office for Property and Legal Affairs, there are over 500 vacant apartments managed by the City, and if this is added to the number of state-owned apartments, there are certainly sufficient resources to satisfy these needs right away.
Following the example of the successful Housing First program implemented worldwide, we urge the Government and local authorities to house these most vulnerable groups in our cities in available public housing units. According to the information provided by Croatian Homeless Network there are about 2000 people living on the streets of Croatia, which, when compared to the number of empty housing units, proves that local authorities and the State have more than enough resources to address this burning issue.
Knowing that the crisis caused by the global pandemic can only be mitigated by reducing social contacts, isolation and proper hygiene, one of the first steps the Senate and cities must take is to enable everyone living in Croatia to enjoy a safety of home. This means not only to shelter people from contagion, but to assure them that losing income will not result in loss of their home or plunge them deeper into the debt spiral.
We hereby demand from local authorities and the Government of the Republic of Croatia to apply these measures and thereby guarantee the safety of home while increasing the chances of successfully fighting against the pandemic at the same time.