Homelessness is an issue that MigSzol has dealt with a lot in the past. Not only were the refugees today in Hungary, by definition, homeless from the start of their journey escaping troubles in their home countries but many are still homeless today in Hungary. For more details on how refugees become homeless, you can also see our previous blog post on the topic.
Sadly, this is because the Hungarian state has failed in its duties, under law and basic decency, to help them 'integrate' into Hungarian society and failed to promote and work for an inclusive Hungary. We know that refugees have been driven directly from the 'integration camps' of Bicske to homeless shelters in Budapest. The concept of an “integration camp” does not exist anymore, but the practice has not changed - after life in a camp, refugees often become homeless.
Homelessness among refugee population has been one of our core concerns and issues of fighting since the beginning. Indeed, in the founding days of MigSzol in November 2012 when Afghans and others from the Bicske refugee camp organized their own protest in front of the Hungarian Parliament, they were protesting the threat of becoming homeless.
There was even a time when MigSzol drew up a grant proposal in which refugees in Hungary could help renovate and build their own housing that they need for their families. We quickly learned that this was an overly ambitious idea for our new group! But even then the solution was obvious: open up the empty buildings and flats in Budapest and allow people affected by the issue of homelessness (Hungarians and refugees) to be a part of the solution. And one of AVM’s demands today is an adequate social housing system, which currently does not exist.
Homelessness is not a 'personal fault' or 'sin' but a product of the national politics and economics of Hungary which refuses to create a solution for everyone. Politics and economics should be about inclusion of everyone and not just a few. Currently, a new law criminalizes homelessness and makes it an arrestable offence.
As AVM states, there are approximately 100,000 empty flats in Budapest in need of renovation and can be offered as social housing to those in need - and MigSzol sees this as a part of potential solution for refugees in Hungary, as well.
Even after a series of negotiations (2012-2013) between the MigSzol refugee members, the Hungarian state and working through international NGOs, the government failed to provide a solution. These refugees discovered what they saw as the impossibility of 'integration' into Hungarian life without sufficient social help.
The government’s sink-or-swim policies for refugees simply do not work. Later in June 2013, many of these Afghan refugees, many with families, decided their lives could be better if they left en masse from Hungary rather than risk life on the streets of Budapest.
The September 27 protest naturally focused primarily on the needs of Hungarian citizens — MigSzol believes refugees face an identical neglect and exclusion from Hungarian life.
We are happy and proud to stand with AVM in the streets because their struggle is our struggle!
• End the criminalisation of Homelessness
• Housing is a basic right
• No evictions without ensuring a place to live
• Housing policy that gives priority to the needy
• Create an expanded social housing policy
• Increase the amount of housing support (money)
• Every flat should be inhabited
• Dignified work and income for all
• Revise the address regulations