Petr Urbánek to lead Pražská developerská společnost
In early October, Petr Urbánek was named director of the Prague Development Company (PDS), a brand-new, publicly-funded entity whose establishment marks a fresh effort by the city to add to its limited stock of public housing. It’s been clear for years now that prices for flats in the Czech capital were rising beyond the budgets of the middle class. That’s not just a problem for the private developers who are running out of people to sell to: the resulting lack of diversity is becoming a threat to the functioning of the city itself, since essential workers (including nurses, emergency service professionals or teachers) don’t tend to be paid very well.
That’s why most European cities have built up stocks of public housing or at least rent-controlled apartments, but they’ve done this over a period of decades. Not Prague, though. The city sold off most of its residential assets in wave after wave of privatizations beginning in the 1990’s in the rush to embrace what it saw as a market economy. This may have had substantial benefits for thousands of families, but it leaves the city itself with few options to provide help where it’s needed.
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