Hungary's homeless shelters are bracing themselves for a busy winter this year, after expanding their capacities to take in an additional 1,500 people.
Homeless shelters usually house about 9,500 people in total, while in the winter they can accommodate up to 11,100. The shelters will be operating with increased capacities until the spring, MTI reports.
The news comes amid concerns for the number of homeless people taking up residence on the streets of Budapest.
Károly Czibere, state secretary for Social Affairs, noted last month that the government spends an annual 9 billion HUF on caring for rough sleepers and financing homeless shelters. Out of those funds, 8 billion HUF is spent on the homeless service system, 540 million HUF on street services and 360 million on the expanded winter services, he said.
This year, for the first time, the government will allocate additional funds towards psychological support services for homeless people and supervision for social workers caring for the homeless, Czibere added.
According to statistics, nearly half of Hungary’s homeless — about 10,000-12,000 people — live in Budapest while the rest reside in other larger cities.
A survey conducted among Hungary’s homeless people by the Shelter Foundation in February this year found that two-thirds of them reside in the countryside and that their conditions are continuously deteriorating. Out of the 10,206 people surveyed, 3,422 resided in public spaces and 6,784 in homeless shelters.