It is very difficult to fight against the root causes of homelessness alone, which include extreme social inequalities, low wages and pensions and the lack of housing benefits and social housing. For this situation to change, we need deep social, political and economic changes, which is what The City is for All is working for by engaging in advocacy for the right to housing. Our struggle notwithstanding, there are still thousands of people living on the streets, in overcrowded shelters or in precarious housing conditions. It is essential, that we all do our best to provide help for homeless people and those struggling with housing problems. At times, even a bit of attention can save lives. The following summary was prepared by homeless people and their allies to offer advice to people who would like to help, but are not always sure about how to do so.
- If someone you know is at risk of becoming homeless (because of an eviction for example) inform them about all possible forms of help!
- If someone you know is about to get evicted, invite that person to the „Együtt a lakhatásunkért” (Together for our housing) self-help group of The City is for All!
- If someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, help them get out of the situation. Do not wait until they run away from home as this is the one of the main causes of homelessness for women! Further information about help for domestic violence victims: Women for Women Against Violence >>>
- Rent your empty apartment to poor or homeless people. This is also possible to organize through the Nyugodt Szív Foundation, who can help you find a tenant.
- Always sign a contract with your tenants and allow your tenants to register an official address. This has no disadvantages for you and it will allow tenants to exercise their basic rights such as access to health care, education and voting! Further information about registering an official address >>>
- Become informed about the causes of homelessness and poverty – do not judge based on stereotypes!
- If you have a bad experience with a homeless person, do not judge all of us based on the actions or words of one of our peers!
- If you work with young people, invite members of The City is for All to hold a presentation or an interactive workshop about homelessness, where our activists talk about their lives and discuss their everyday activities in a playful way. Further information about our school program >>>
- Be mindful about how you call homeless people! Do not call us bums, beggars, stinky, alcoholic or criminal and do not make any other hurtful comments about us. Also, warn other people, if they do not respect our dignity!
- The media plays a huge role in spreading prejudices about homeless people. If you are a journalist, please read our guide before you discuss our situation!
- Stand up for homeless people when they experience harm such as violence, oppression and humiliation! If you see that a representative of the authorities talks to or treats a homeless person in an inappropriate way, hold them responsible. Always encourage the victim to file an official complaint. More information about what you can do if you observe mistreatment by the police >>>
- Put pressure on local and national representatives to find comprehensive solutions to homelessness and housing poverty! More information about solutions to homelessness >>>
- Support The City is for All: subscribe to our newsletter, donate money to us, follow our Facebook page, take part in our events or demonstrations or become our volunteer! If you are interested in joining us, write us an email at [email protected]
- Inform homeless people about The City is for All and encourage them to join us! We can protect everyone’s interests and rights a lot more effectively if we work together.
- Inform homeless people about Utcajogász (Streetlawyer), which provides free legal advice to homeless people and those facing housing problems.
- Spread the information materials and know-your-rights booklets of Streetlawyer and The City is for All among homeless people!
- Find people who would also like to fight against homelessness and form your own group! If you live in the 8th district, join the Közöd Civil Society!
- Employ a homeless person! If there is something to do around the house that you can’t or do not want to do, ask homeless people if they are interested in doing them.
- Join the Give me work! program of the From Streets to Housing Association and employ homeless people for temporary work!
- Inform homeless people if you know about a job opportunity!
- Do not fire people just because they do not have a registered permanent address!
- If you have homeless co-workers, stand up for their rights, and do not let any atrocities happen to them just because they are homeless. Do not allow others to take advantage of their vulnerable situation.
- Buy and read the Fedél Nélkül street newspaper, which provides a stable income to many homeless people and contains interesting writings and nice poems!
- Do not break recyclables bottles, but place them near trash containers to allow people who do not have any other source of income to collect and return them.
- If someone asks you for money, it is your decision if you give or not. Always try to be nice and polite regardless of your answer.
- Support homeless people with food and clothes (warm clothes, shoes, underwear, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, etc. are especially useful).
- Do not throw away anything that is edible or useable, but offer it to homeless people who are forced to live on the street!
- Do not throw away usable things, but put them besides the trash can so those who need them can use them.
- Do not donate non-useable things to either charity organizations or directly to homeless people! Just like you, homeless people can’t use torn shoes, broken glasses, moldy blankets or buggy mattresses.
- Buy homeless people a mass transit or train ticket, if they do not have money for it and they are in trouble! It is extremely useful if you buy a monthly pass for a homeless person every month.
- If you have books that you don’t need anymore, offer them to homeless people!
- Help homeless people store and carry their belongings!
- Give your old, but operational cellphone to homeless people, which allows them to keep in touch with social workers, charity organizations, friends and employers.
- Charge homeless people’s cell phones with money from time to time so that they do not lose their existing phone numbers and continue to be able to keep in touch with others.
- Many homeless people have pets. Help them by buying food, a collar or a leash. Help owners take their animals to the vet and get the necessary vaccinations.
- Join groups that provide direct help to homeless people! In Budapest we are happy to recommend you Heti Betevő, Food Not Bombs Budapest, Budapest Bike Maffia and From the Street to Housing Association!
KEEPING IN TOUCH
- Get to know homeless people in your neighborhood, talk to them and ask them if everything is okay or if they need anything!
- If you see someone in public space who sits or lies in the same spot for a long time, ask them if there is anything wrong, or if you can help them with something!
- Invite a homeless person to your home for Christmas!
- Think about what you can help with: are you a doctor, a teacher or a hair-dresser? Offer your knowledge or service to homeless people!
- Surprise homeless people in your neighborhood with a gift once or twice a year (e.g. for Easter, Christmas or for their birthday). Even a symbolic gift can mean a lot!
- If someone becomes homeless, give them the phone number of the regional homeless dispatcher service, or call it for them to inquire about homeless shelters and other available services!
- If you see homeless people in a bad condition, do not assume immediately, that they are drunk! Find out if they have any health problems or if they need help.
- If you see a homeless person experiencing an urgent health situation, call the ambulance. Preferably wait for them and make sure that the person is taken good care of.
- If you see homeless people in a crisis situation, call the regional dispatcher service!
- In the winter, some hot tea is very useful to survive the cold!
REGIONAL DISPATCHER SERVICES
If a homeless person needs help, call the 24-hour regional homeless dispatcher service!
Budapest and Pest county: +361-338-41-86
Fejér, Komárom-Esztergom and Veszprém county: +3634-511-028
Győr-Moson-Sopron, Vas and Zala county: +3692-323-000
Baranya, Somogy and Tolna county: +3672-233-169
Hajdú-Bihar, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county: +3642-504-618
Bács-Kiskun, Csongrád and Békés county: +3676-485-582
When to call the dispatcher?
- If someone’s life is or seems to be in danger (wet clothing, lying on the ground without a blanket and cardboard underneath, getting cold, freezing, drying out)
- If a homeless person asks for help; but you do not know what kind of help is necessary.
- If you need information or help, because you a relative or a friend has become homeless, or they are at risk of becoming homeless.
- If homeless people in your neighborhood behave differently from the usual (e.g. they did not get up at the regular time, sleep all day)
When you call the dispatcher, pay attention to the following:
- Location? (Exact address, or a description about how to get there)
- What have you observed? (The person is lying on the floor, behaves differently from the normal, complains about strong pain, etc.)
- The reported person’s gender, age, and (in case you know it) name.
- Ask the homeless person what kind of help they need!
- Wait for the possible questions of the dispatcher, and only hang up afterwards!
- In case you can’t stay on the spot, leave your name and phone number.