A Város Mindenkié (The City is for All) is organizing the 7th March for Housing, a mass protest for the right to housing. Our aim is to draw attention to the housing crisis in Hungary and hold the national and local governments accountable for not addressing it properly. The march is a part of Fall in Motion, a series of events organized by groups who experience different forms of exclusion and who stand up together for our rights. We stand in solidarity with each other!
When? Saturday, October 14, 2017. 2-5pm
Where? Budapest – Deák tér
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
By the end of 2017, around 4000 families will have been evicted in Hungary, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Having a safe and dignified home is an issue not only for people who are homeless or have been evicted. More and more people are facing housing difficulties, which makes all other aspects of their lives almost impossible:
- Over the past five years rent has doubled in Budapest. We all have first-hand experiences of this along with those who have been waiting for social housing for years.
- Young people endlessly postpone starting a new family because they cannot have a place of their own.
- Many families live in overcrowded apartments because younger generations cannot move out. Nearly half of the Hungarian population lives in overcrowded households.
- People are not able to move to bigger cities for work because of the high rent and skyrocketing real estate prices.
- An average salary of a cashier, security guard, teacher, nurse or a call-center employee is not enough to buy or rent an apartment without falling into debt. Supporting their children on the housing market is completely out of reach for these families.
- Many people who could afford to rent an apartment are not able to because of widespread prejudices. This mainly affects the Roma and families with children.§
- 140,000 households are not able to pay their mortgage installments.§ More than one and a half million people can’t pay their utilities on a regular basis.§ More than 100,000 people do not have a proper address, which means that they do not have access to basic health services and social benefits and they can’t even vote.
- Nearly 300,000 people across the country live in segregated Roma settlements or extremely poor communities.
- There are 200,000 children growing up without a bathroom in Hungary and a third of Hungarian children live in moldy, wet and unhealthy homes.
These problems affect millions of citizens – young people, women, men, intellectuals, disabled workers, Roma and non-Roma people. There is a solution to the housing crisis and it is only up to the national and local governments to change this situation. The Fidesz-KDNP government spends nearly 200 billion forints a year from the state budget for housing purposes but only a negligible part of this money goes towards reducing housing poverty. Most of the subsidies support wealthier people, as they are almost exclusively aimed at property acquisition and mortgages. However, this is not a solution for more and more people and millions end up in rapidly deteriorating housing conditions.
This must be changed and this is what the 7th March for Housing is about. It is important that we come together: those who experience the housing crisis first-hand and those who stand in solidarity with us. The government is in the hands of politicians, but their job is to serve us, the people! During the March we will pass by four public institutions (the municipality of Budapest, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Human Resources and the Parliament) to hold them accountable for the housing crisis and demand real solutions from them!
WHAT DO WE WANT?
1. Housing, democracy and the rule of law!
The anti-poor social policy implemented by the Orbán government since 2010 has further increased social inequalities. We are fighting for a Hungary where everyone can live freely and with dignity; where the poor and the rich have an equal say in how this country is run and where our social institutions protect everyone from human rights violations, poverty and homelessness.
2. Provide safe renting conditions in Budapest! The price of rental apartments in Budapest is unaffordable and most tenants are in an unstable and vulnerable position. Current regulations are not able to curb the endless increase of rent. –> We demand regulations that mandate the registration of rental apartments, protect the rights of tenants and guarantee affordable rents!
3. Reintroduce the utilities assistance program in Budapest! The utilities assistance program in Budapest, which has helped tens of thousands of families to sustain their housing, has been suspended for years. –> We demand the reintroduction of the utilities assistance program!
4. Start a social housing program! There is less and less social housing in Budapest while there are more and more evictions. The housing regulations of district governments are not transparent and apartments are managed (or sold) under different conditions in every district. –> We demand that the municipality of Budapest take responsibility for the management of all municipal housing units in the capital, build social housing, upgrade existing apartments and provide social housing to those who need it the most!
5. Provide real social housing! Local governments can do whatever they want with their social housing units. There is no guarantee that those living in these apartments actually need them or that they live in appropriate conditions with adequate support. In recent years, the number of evictions from municipal housing units has gone up sharply. Today, many of these homes are vacant or inhabited by wealthy government politicians and entrepreneurs. –> We demand the state regulation of municipal apartments: there should be a unified rent support system; housing should not be privatized; and municipal units should only be provided on the basis of real needs! Local governments should be obliged to maintain social housing at a level adequate to the local scale of housing poverty!
6. Introduce the right to a permanent address! More than 100,000 citizens do not have a proper address in Hungary. Without a valid address, it is almost impossible to get basic health and social benefits or to get any officials matters done. Without an address, Hungarian citizens practically lose their civil rights. We demand that people have the right to a proper address where they really reside. Landlords should be legally obliged to register their tenant’s address!
7. Re-introduce the national housing support program! In 2015, the government abolished the national housing maintenance support program, which provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of households. –> We demand the re-introduction of the national housing support program! The amount of the subsidies should be adjusted to real utility costs and people should have access with the same conditions all over the country.
8. Do not separate children from their parents because of housing problems! The authorities routinely violate the law by removing children from their families because they live in severe poverty or have no proper home. –> We demand a law that would ensure the right to housing for families with children!
9. End evictions without providing alternative placement! Today in Hungary anyone can end up on the streets after an eviction as there is no law that would require some kind of alternative accommodation for evictees. In addition, in 2015 the government changed the law on debt management services offered by bigger towns: while previously, municipalities were obliged to offer such services, it is now only optional and many local governments opted out. It will only be worse for everyone if families are broken apart and their members end up in the social services system or on the streets. –> We demand that the Parliament adopt a law that requires providing an alternative placement for everyone after an eviction!
10. Develop a national housing strategy! The government does not have a comprehensive housing strategy, so housing policies are not transparent or consistent and their impact is not measured. –> We call for the development of a national housing strategy that sets clear and accountable goals for eliminating housing poverty and homelessness! Opposition parties, housing professional and people living in housing poverty should also be involved in the creation of the strategy!
11. Appoint a government official responsible for housing! In the government, there is a special commissioner for everything, including the „reorganization of the Mezőhegyes State Stud Farm”. Still, there is nobody who would take responsibility for housing. –> We demand a government official appointed specifically for the task of solving the housing crisis!