Finding a solution to Budapest's homeless community

An organization called Utcarol Lakasba is working with the support of local authorities, renovating state-owned houses for homeless families

The homeless community has become an increasing problem within Budapest over recent years, and there has recently been more friendly solutions put forward by non-profits in Hungary.

The Huffington Post today reports on the homeless people of Budapest and what is being done to help them.

Journalist Raluca Besliu writes that there are 30,000 homeless people in Hungary, a substantial portion of the country’s 10 million population. The majority of them, around 10,000, live in Budapest, Hungary’s capital city.

Sleeping rough on the streets and in public places was restricted by provisions included in the 2010 Law on Constructions and subsequently in the 2011 Law on Misdemeanors. The Constitutional Court struck down these sections of the law in 2012. However, the government amended the Constitution in 2013, to enable Parliament and local governments to create laws and ordinances to reduce the number of people sleeping rough and to encourage the use of publicly provided shelters.

An organization called Utcarol Lakasba, has stepped in with an innovated solution. Working with the support of local authorities, it is renovating state-owned houses for homeless families to move into. The organization is currently working in the 10th and 19th districts of Budapest, but it is currently in talks to expand the other ones as well.

The families that the non-profit helps are in the final stages of reintegrating into society, usually already gaining some form of stable income. The homeless people have to apply for these houses, stating why they are ready to move in. The buildings are renovated with the help of volunteers and the homeless people themselves, which gives them an added sense of ownership.

An essential step for homeless people to reach the level where they could afford social housing is securing sustainable employment.

Some social workers have emphasized that the shelters often do not provide assistance in finding employment. András Rákos, director of a shelter called Oltalom, stressed that they provide them limited employment assistance, given some of the negative experiences that both employers and homeless people have experienced.

He recounted that "sometimes, the employers hire the homeless for a day, but then refuse to pay them. And there isn’t anything that we can do about that.”

However, there are organizations in Budapest whose entire mission is focused on helping homeless people gain access to sustainable jobs. One of them, Van Esely, helps them by providing them work tools and skills.

Like Utcarol Lakasba, they also provide assistance based on applications that they receive. The requirement is the pairing between a social worker and a homeless individual, working together to focus on achieving one specific goal.

Peter Breitner, the non-profit’s president, emphasized that "since we were founded 15 years ago, we have helped more than 200 people find stable jobs, with a success rate of 80 percent in all our cases.

Our support ranges from providing mopeds for transportation to support from obtaining a drivers’ license or nail polishing courses.”

The staff at Van Esely meet regularly with the social workers and homeless people to ensure that they are on their way to achieving their goals. Most of the people they support end up moving from shelters or the streets into social housing.

Read more here.