Housing

Hungary

Country Report: Housing Last updated: 30/11/20

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 practice, in 2017 this meant that they had to leave the centres before being issued with an ID (see section on Residence Permit). In 2018, beneficiaries of international protection were accommodated in Vámosszabadi until the new inadmissibility ground, namely the “safe transit country” was adopted and got to be applied as of 10 August 2018. Since then until the end of 2018, there was only one unaccompanied minor who received tolerated status and was transferred to Fót, while the other applications were rejected on the ground of Serbia being a “safe transit country”, therefore, no person with international protection status was accommodated in Vámosszabadi at that time. In 2019, there were a total of 33 persons accommodated in Vámosszabadi. However, the information provided by the NDGAP[2] does not specify the basis of their stay, only states that they were persons under the effect of the Asylum Act, it can be concluded from the context that this number concerns beneficiaries of international protection.

Besides accommodation, people are entitled to food during their 30-day stay. Persons with permission to stay could be placed in the community shelter in Balassagyarmat, although in 2018 this practice was not applied as only asylum seekers were accommodated by the shelter. However, according to the general experience most of the beneficiaries of international protection left the country a few days after their release from the transit zones both in 2018 and 2019.

The July 2013 amendments to the Asylum Act had introduced a new integration system moving away from camp-based integration to community-based integration. As of January 2014, integration support was provided via an integration contract concluded by the asylum authority and the person granted international protection upon request of the latter within 4 months following their recognition. The maximum period of validity of the contract was 2 years. The amount of integration support was set in the integration contract and the services were provided via the family care service of the local municipality. A social worker was appointed supporting the beneficiary of international protection throughout the integration process.

By June 2016, all forms of integration support were eliminated. Therefore, since then beneficiaries of international protection are no longer eligible to any state support such as housing or financial support, additional assistance and 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 exclusively by civil society and church-based organisations. 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. In 2019, according to the Menedék Association, the increase of rental fees also contributed to the deteriorative conditions regarding accommodation.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary arranged short-term crisis placement for 61 persons with international protection in 2018 and a total of 83 persons in the last year (however the latter number might be lower because of the overlapping aid forms provided to the same person). Out of the 83 people there were 20 single man and one women while the others were families. The people were placed either in hostels or in AirBnB flats or the Lutheran Church contributed with financial aid to the fee or the deposit of the apartment rental.  Reportedly, the Jesuit Refugee Service is also of important help for beneficiaries of international protection regarding housing.

The Baptist Integration Centre provided housing to 81 persons with international protection at four shelters in 2018, whereas the number of residents dropped to 54 accommodated in three shelters in 2019.

Kalunba provided a housing programme for 280 persons in 2017 and 2018. This number included single beneficiaries of international protection and families, as well. The programme ceased to exist with the closure of the AMIF funding. Within the framework of the programme, Kalunba assisted beneficiaries in renting apartments lasting between half a year to one-year period of time (based on the individual needs of the person). After 30 June 2018, the organisation still supports eight families with apartment rents.  In 2019, these families were further supported by the organisation, furthermore eight new apartments were rented by Kalunba providing accommodation to more people.

Besides NGOs, until 2019, there had been an important service provider, namely the Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy and Its Institutions (BMSZKI) targeting beneficiaries of international protection by its project. BMSZKI is the homeless service provider of Budapest Municipality.[5] The Institution offered a housing program for beneficiaries of international protection from 1 January 2016 until 30 June 2018, funded by AMIF and the Interior Ministry. The program aimed at, through an individual social worker, facilitating the access to housing (individual counselling, contacting landlords, assistance at the contract conclusion) and supporting financially the accommodation of beneficiaries (payment of the rent or the overheads). Indigent families and single persons were the target groups. In 2018, the programme provided support  to 24 beneficiaries with finding an apartment and with the payment of the rent. With the end of the project, given the non-availability of the AMIF funding, BMSZKI is not able to offer specialized programs to refugees and persons with subsidiary protection anymore. The organisation 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.[6] 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.

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 or 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 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 is difficult due to language barriers and the lack of interpreters. BMSZKI in 2018 reported prejudices against refugees in the apartment market, as well.

According to the experiences of the Lutheran Church, a recent practice of the local government offices requires refugees to provide a copy of the property sheet and the consent of the owner not only as to the address registration but also to the justification of the person’s full subsistence. Another case from 2018 was of a refugee who had been residing already in Hungary with a student residence permit before he received the refugee status. It took him around two months until he got an address card, as the government office did not accept his dormitory’s address which was registered in his student residence permit.[7]

Reportedly, the lack of special housing for families persisted in 2019.

 


[1]Section 41(1) Asylum Decree.

[2] On 3 February 2020.

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

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

[7]Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada,Hungary: Identity cards and address cards for nationals and non-nationals, including requirements and procedures to obtain the cards; description of the cards, including information on the cards (2016-July 2018), [HUN106146.E], 10 August 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2SK8waD.

 

 

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