The giant cockroach – a symbol of the housing shortage in the Czech Republic

The owner of a block of flats in Brno charges 10 500 crowns per month (400 euro) for a one-room flat infested with fungus, bedbugs, and other insects. He also raised the block's value by installing billboards on its walls. That's why the Džuvle collective decided to make the billboard reflect the reality of the house’s inhabitants, replacing the happy family on the original image by a cockroach.

The Kuncova block of flats in Brno is a typical example of the conditions that people threatened by the housing shortage in the Czech Republic are forced to live in. The owner of the house charges 10 500 crowns per month (400 euro) for a one-room flat infested with fungus, bedbugs, and other insects. For this price, the inhabitants could find proper housing but instead they face discrimination and exclusion from the real estate market because of the colour of their skin. Furthermore, the tenants are often forced to pay this amount, as well as other fees, through threats and by having the heating and electricity turned off in winter. Some of them even speak about physical threats and mental abuse. Roughly 200 people live in this house; around 120 of them are children who are growing up in unsanitary conditions and constant uncertainty.

The owner of this block raised its value by installing massive billboards on its walls. The advertisements on these boards display a paradoxical image: the idyllic picture of a well-off household. This is why the artists and activists of the Džuvle collective decided to make the billboard reflect the reality of the house’s inhabitants. The happy family on the original image was replaced by a cockroach, which the building is infested with.

187 000 people in the Czech Republic lack a real home. They live in asylums, hostels or on the streets, with no prospect of ever getting a home of their own. The people most threatened by the housing shortage are pensioners, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, the handicapped, those caught in the debt trap and children leaving children’s homes. This situation could be drastically improved by passing the social housing bill, which was named as one of the priorities of the current ruling coalition. The Social Democrats, however, neglected to properly prepare it and tried to force it through at last minute without gaining the necessary political support. Due to the obstructions by the opposition, the social housing bill did not even get through the first reading in the Parliament.