Full student dormitories and too expensive rents on one side and empty city apartments on the other. To solve both problems, the City of Prague 3 project offers students an affordable rent of a municipal apartment for 30 hours a month looking after the elderly in a nursing home.
“We believe that the project that has just started will bring two generations closer together and bring different perspectives on the present we are living,” says Deputy Mayor of Prague 3, Ondřej Rut (Green Party).
In return, students have to spend 30 hours a month with residents of a nursing home for a discounted flat rental. For example, they can go shopping, help with computer work, or take them for a walk.
“We talk a lot, play board games or play the guitar. For me it’s a way of relaxation,” explains Cuong Manh Vu, a native Czech with Vietnamese roots and one of the students who joined the project.
“As a college student, it is quite difficult to get housing at an affordable price. I have been studying sociology, and social policy at Charles University and I have always wanted to dedicate myself to elderly, so for me, it’s a great two-in-one offer,” adds Cuong Manh Vu. In exchange for his time, he received from Prague 3 his apartment in Krásova Street, the house which is also inhabited by nursing clients.
The City Hall found inspiration abroad, where such programs have been successfully operating for several years. The program included two municipal flats. Student Van, as he has started to be nicknamed by the elderly in the house, pays for an unfurnished apartment rent 2688 CZK per month, electricity bills not included. In the second apartment in Roháčova Street, which is almost twice as big, a student pays 5172 CZK per month, electricity not included.
Connecting generations praises everyone
“We had these two apartments in Prague 3 available, so the idea was born. The interest was great, and it looks like the project is working,” says Deputy Mayor Ondřej Rut. “In the Czech Republic, we are probably the only ones doing something like this,” he continues, adding that he would like to maintain the City Hall project in the future.
Student visits are appreciated mainly by residents of the nursing home. They agree that Van’s presence is exciting as it makes them think of other ideas. “Young people make us feel a little more rejuvenated as if we are not old,” one of the women said, appreciating the connection of generations.