Housing poverty in Hungary

Building and campaigning against the lack of affordable housing
  • 30 people served in FY18 30 people served in FY18
  • 421 volunteers hosted in FY18 421 volunteers hosted in FY18
  • Projects: home and shelter renovation for the homeless, advocacy Projects: home and shelter renovation for the homeless, advocacy

We have been serving families and fighting housing poverty in Hungary since 1996, where we have supported more than 2,600 families.

About 33% of Hungary’s population is challenged by the threat of poverty and social marginalisation. While the number of the poor grows constantly, incomes are further polarising. Housing costs are an ever growing burden for families.

Income inequalities

Many of them lose their homes unable to pay for the expenses. In recent times, there has been much debate on the issue of homelessness.

The parliament has declared habitual residence in public places a violation, and although it was criticised heavily by international organisations and the Constitutional Court, sadly the legislation was not changed.

How we help

Our goal is to see everyone live in decent housing that allows them to live a healthy and active life. We provide direct help for many to achieve this.

By providing cheap building materials, volunteer labour and training, we help families and communities make a difference in their housing conditions. We have also been working on advocacy for many years to achieve fair and inclusive housing policies.

Annual reports

Our local office publishes annual reports on the state of housing poverty in Hungary. The aim is to provide regular accounts on the status and trends in housing poverty, and to analyse annually how and to what extent each year’s policies have contributed to its reduction.

Key facts & figures

  • Population 9.9 million
  • Urbanisation 71.2%
  • Life expectancy 75.7 years
  • Unemployment rate 7.7%
  • Population living below poverty line:14%

Homeless shelters

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Homeless shelters do not necessarily provide real solutions for homeless people living in public space to break out from homelessness. Our "Housing First" programme prepares homeless people living on the streets to live a self-reliant life. The aim of the programme is to enable homeless people move into and maintain their rented apartments, get employed and gradually reintegrate into society.

We renovate empty municipality owned rental apartments partly with the help of volunteers. Those moving in are also supported by complex and intensive social work to help them keep their homes.

Campaigning for social housing

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The aim of our advocacy work is achieve a fair and inclusive housing policy. Our construction projects also serve as a basis for our advocacy work. As a result of our work so far, the European Union has included provisions for pilot programmes creating access to affordable rental housing based on the concept we developed in partnership with Metropolitan Research Institute.

The first call under this heading is expected for 2016, in the value of € 3.2 million. If the pilot successfully validates the concept, it is expected to inspire policy change creating access to adequate housing for thousands of vulnerable people.

At risk of homelessness

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The scarcity of affordable housing is an enormous problem in Hungary. There are around 200-300 thousand families in need of low cost rental housing. Around 50 000 of these families are in severe housing crisis and on the edge of homelessness.

These families are forced to live either with relatives or friends without knowing how long they can stay, or in housing with insecure tenure, or in temporary homes. The "Second Chance" programme helps families living in temporary shelters to move into affordable rentals, and provides them with social work care and services.