Our lead partners in Budapest want to help the largest possible number of rough sleepers and people in need to move into affordable rental housing, and ensure that affordable housing provision with support becomes the institutional, national policy level solution to homelessness.
Joined the campaign: June 2021
Who’s involved? The Budapest campaign is led by local NGO Utcáról Lakásba! Egyesület / From Streets to Homes Association. They run programmes with several municipal districts including the Municipality of Budapest; work closely with the Budapest Institute; and with other organisations such as City for All, Menhely Foundation, Street Lawyer Association, Baptist Aid, Habitat for Humanity Hungary, and the Metropolitan Research Institute.
What has happened so far? Exact data on street homelessness doesn’t exist. The 2011 census indicated there were 12,000 officially registered homeless people nationally – although social experts estimate a higher number. Many people live in the streets or in self fabricated huts in the woods. In 2015, more than 30,000 people used daytime services for homeless people, but these are sometimes used by people living in homes as well.
Institutional care, like night and long-term shelters, is provided by the state and municipalities. However, the quality of some is below standard, with people sleeping in overcrowded rooms and poor conditions.
On a practical level, the support provided by the state does not show a way out of homelessness. On a strategic level, there is no comprehensive social policy in place nationally to tackle homelessness or housing exclusion.
- In 2015 the government introduced legislation that bans habitual residence in a public space, making street homelessness a crime.
- National government offers tax reductions and preferential loans to support middle and higher-class families to buy or renovate properties. At the same time, the number of available social rental apartments, managed by municipalities, decreases year on year.
Within this context, NGO Utcáról Lakásba! Egyesület / From Streets to Homes delivers services and advocates for needed changes. They manage two programmes, supporting elderly people, families with children, and those who have been street homeless or lived in huts in the woods. Both programmes provide intensive social work for tenants; and there is a group that helps people find work.
- From Huts to Homes: empty municipally-owned apartments are renovated for people in need.
- Social Housing Agency: offering privately-owned apartments and mobile homes at affordable rents.
They currently manage 32 apartments with 77 tenants.
They are members of a coalition of NGOs, trade unions and advocacy groups to prevent an amendment to Hungarian housing law which would privatise municipal housing stock – further deepening the current urban housing crisis and increasing housing inequality.
What’s next? A key goal is to secure additional local district municipalities as strategic partners.
Working with the Budapest Institute, and with a grant from World Habitat’s Innovation Fund, they are researching and writing a digital handbook with policy recommendations and ‘how-to’ guidelines. These can be used by municipalities in Budapest and other parts of Hungary to create new, innovative social housing programmes to reduce housing exclusion and homelessness.