Housing

Hungary

Country Report: Housing Last updated: 15/04/21

Author

Hungarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

Recognised refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can stay in the reception centre up to 30 days after receiving the decision on their status.[1]. In 2020, there were a total of 528 persons accommodated in Vámosszabadi. The information provided by the NDGAP[2] did not specify the basis of their stay, only stated that they were persons under the effect of the Asylum Act. It can be concluded from the context though that this number mainly concerned asylum seekers since with the closure of the transit zones the majority of asylum seeker were placed here. In Balassagyarmat there were no beneficiaries of international protection placed in 2020. Besides accommodation, people are entitled to receive food during their 30-day stay.

In June 2016 all forms of integration support were eliminated, therefore beneficiaries of international protection are no longer eligible to any state support such as housing, financial support, additional assistance or others.

In the last years, NGOs and social workers reported extreme difficulties for beneficiaries of international protection moving out of reception centres and integrating into local communities.[3] Accommodation free of charge is provided to a very limited extent exclusively by civil society and church-based organisations. Moreover, the contacted organisations’ activity is limited to the capital of Hungary. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the Ministry of Interior withdrew all the calls for tenders funded by AMIF in the beginning of 2018.[4] This means that by 30 June 2018 all those programmes whose integration support activity relied on this funding had ceased. In the absence of housing services provided by the state/local government, only homeless shelters – e.g. Temporary Homeless Shelter of the Baptist Integration Centre – and a few NGOs and church-based organisations’ housing programmes remained available for beneficiaries of international protection. However, as the numbers and the general capacities of the provided help shown below, the civil society and church-based organisations cannot meet all the needs of people with international protection. HHC is aware of a case from 2020 when a German lawyer contacted several organisations (also the ones listed below) in order to know if there was available accommodation for a family with international protection in case of their return. The contacted organisations could provide no solution for the family which clearly shows the limits of the housing capacities.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary arranged short-term crisis placement for 45 persons with international protection (together with the family members a total of 95 people benefitted from the services) in Budapest in 2020. Out of the 95 people there were 12 single women or mother. Two people were placed in hostel, in three cases the beneficiaries were provided by rented apartments for longer term in the community house of the Church, in one case the Church funded the accommodation provided by the Baptists. In the rest of the cases the Church contributed with financial aid to the fee (for 1-3 months) or the deposit (4 times) of the apartment rental. According to the Church due to their limited resources they had to reject applicants and there was even a period of time last year when there was no available funding at all as a result of the time gap between two funding.

The Jesuit Refugee Service provided two flats for families and single persons (altogether 10 people), as well as a total of 6 places to students in two dormitories belonging to the Jesuit Order in Budapest last year. However, due to the pandemic the number of places in the dormitories had to be decreased to four in September. Those beneficiaries benefitting from accommodation by the Jesuit Refugee Service are also assisted by a social worker (there is one person in the Order providing such help), volunteer mentors and two parochial communities. According to the Jesuit Service there is a high demand for these places among people with international protection.

The Baptist Integration Centre opened its temporary home for families in June 2020, however, there was no families with international protection status accommodated there last year. The home has a capacity of 80 people (Hungarian as well as foreign citizens). According to the Centre in June there were 90 families on their waiting list.[5] The Baptist Integration Centre provided housing a total of 26 persons with international protection in three temporary homeless shelters and 10 peoples were hosted in the Exit Centre in 2020. This meant similarly to last year again a drop in the number of residents compared to 2019 (54 residents). As reported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the homeless shelters provide the most feasible and economic solution for beneficiaries of international protection after receiving status (cca. 30 EUR/month).

Kalunba has been providing a housing programme for years. However, with the end of the AMIF funding the number of people supported by the organisation and the length of the offered help significantly decreased. In 2020 Kalunba supported around 40 people international protection status for a 3-month time with rented apartments. Due to Covid-19, this time based on the individual situation everyone was given an extension.

As of 2019 the Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy and Its Institutions (BMSZKI), the homeless service provider of Budapest Municipality,[6] has no special program targeting beneficiaries of international protection given the non-availability of the AMIF funding. The Institution runs temporary accommodation shelters and night shelters for homeless people that are open for beneficiaries of international protection, as well. However, the temporary accommodation shelters are running with full capacities and have long waiting lists to get in, while night shelters are also full and provide 15-20 bedrooms. According to BMSZKI, these conditions are not in line with the needs of refugees who are often severely traumatised, do not know the language – interpreter is not available – and since the institute cannot guarantee the respect of the unity of families.[7] In 2019, there were less than 10 refugees showing up at these homeless shelters but because of communication difficulties they left after a few days. In 2020 there was no one with international protection status present in the shelters of the Institution. According to the BMSZKI at the beginning of the year a few places would have been available for beneficiaries of international protection. However, as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand surged in line with the growing number of unemployment. On the other hand, though, BMSZKI had to decrease its capacity in order to provide sufficient health safety measures to the hosted people. Due to the pandemic between 17 March 2020 and mid-June there was a full halt on newcomers in the temporary shelters. In the summer it was open again. As of September, the provision of accommodation in the temporary shelters is conditioned on two prior PCR tests. By the end of the year the temporary shelters are running again with full capacity and the waiting list of the Institute is again extensive.

Due to the lack of apartments on the market, the rental fees are too high to be affordable for beneficiaries who have just been granted status. In addition to this struggle, landlords usually prefer to rent out their apartments to Hungarians rather than foreign citizens.

A further problem regarding housing is the difficulty of getting an address card. Landlords usually require prospective tenants to have an address card, which is impossible to obtain, unless someone has a contract and the confirmation statement of the owner of the flat that he/she can use the address as his/her permanent address. On the other hand, landlords in general are not willing to give their approval to tenants and allow them to register the leased property’s address as their permanent residence. Moreover, as per the previous experience of BMSZKI, landlords usually prefer tenants with no children, which makes it even more difficult for families to find an adequate accommodation. Keeping contact with the owner might be also difficult due to language barriers and the lack of interpreters. Reportedly, the lack of special housing for families persisted in 2020.

The Jesuit Refugee Service and the Lutheran Church reported that the pandemic exposed the beneficiaries of international protection with difficulties with regard to housing. The decreasing income made it troublesome to cover all the housing related costs for those living in private apartments. Since the economic backlash affected the landlords equally, beneficiaries of international protection could receive moratorium regarding the payment of the rent only in exceptional cases.

 

 

 

[1]        Section 41(1) Asylum Decree.

[2]        Information provided by the NDGAP on 2 March 2021.

[3]        EASO, Description of the Hungarian asylum system, May 2015, 10.

[4]        The withdrawn calls inter alia covered the improvement of reception conditions for unaccompanied children, the support of their integration, legal assistance to asylum seekers, housing and integration programmes. Belügyi Alapok, ‘Tájékoztatás pályázati kiírások visszavonásáról’, 24 January 2018, available in Hungarian at: http://bit.ly/2CzR1Nv.

[5]        https://www.baptist.hu/elkeszult-az-uj-epulete-a-baptista-integracios-kozpont-csaladok-atmeneti-otthonanak/.

[6]             BMSZKI, Leaflet, available at: https://bit.ly/2XbnwNu.

[7]        Families and couples (apart from a limited number of places regarding the latter) cannot be placed together.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation