Housing

Hungary

Country Report: Housing Last updated: 10/07/24

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 2022 no one was accommodated in Vámosszabadi.[2] In Balassagyarmat 163 persons were placed in 2022. 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. A policy analysis on housing of beneficiaries of international protection published by the Menedék Association in 2021, confirms that there are no targeted public housing solutions or housing policies for refugees and beneficiaries of international protection in Hungary.[3]

Accommodation by civil society and church-based organisations

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.[4] 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.[5] This means that by 30 June 2018 all programmes whose integration support activity relied on this funding 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, civil society and church-based organisations cannot meet all the needs of people with international protection. The HHC is aware of a case from 2020 when a German lawyer contacted several organisations (also the ones listed below) 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. As per the Menedék Association, there are a few local governments open to address housing problems concerning beneficiaries of international protection. Nevertheless, in the absence of sufficient resources and support, such initiatives have not been realised so far. Menedék Association reiterated that in 2022 beneficiaries of international protection could still not rely on any state support regarding more permanent housing. The Association points out that it is not realistic to find housing solutions within 30 days after receiving the international protection status.[6]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary arranged short-term crisis placement for 30 persons with international protection (together with the family members, a total of 66 people benefitted from the services, one third less than one year ago) in Budapest in 2021. Out of the 66 people, there were also one asylum seeker and one person with tolerated status. Accommodation was provided in a hostel, in the community house of the Church, and in a workers’ hostel. According to the Church, since September 2021, they could not support further people in need due to the lack of resources. Already in 2020, they were occasionally forced to reject applicants due to limited resources.  No report has been received from Evangelical Lutheran Church regarding 2022.

The Jesuit Refugee Service provided accommodation for 361 persons throughout 2022 (incl. persons displaced from Ukraine). 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), involving 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 Jesuit Refugee Service furthermore reported that they were struggling with serious capacity issues to manage the new demand from persons of concern (primarily the substantial number of persons displaced from Ukraine) and that they had to increase the number of their staff as well as secure new locations where they could provide their services.[7]

The Baptist Integration Centre opened its temporary home for families in June 2020. The centre did not accommodate any families with international protection status last year, however. The home has a capacity of 80 people (Hungarian as well as foreign citizens). According to the Centre, in June 2020, 90 families were on their waiting list.[8] The Baptist Integration Centre provided housing a total of 22 persons with international protection in three temporary homeless shelters and 6 people were hosted in the Exit Centre in 2022. As opposed to the yearly decrease in the number of residents in the previous years, the number of 2022 has not changed significantly compared to the year before. In 2021 year, a mandatory COVID-19 test was a precondition for the admittance to the homeless shelter which caused significant delays in the registration of newcomers.

As reported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the homeless shelters provide the most feasible and economic solution for beneficiaries of international protection after receiving protection 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. The number of beneficiaries of the Kalunba’s complex housing programme decreased in 2021 due to the difficulties and restrictions the pandemic brought about. Kalunba reported that throughout 2022 the presence of beneficiaries of international protection in their work was insignificant, which they attributed to the fact that given the legislative changes, less asylum-seekers could access protection in Hungary. [9]

As of 2019 the Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy and Its Institutions (BMSZKI), the homeless service provider of Budapest Municipality,[10] has no special programme 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 at 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.[11] 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 extent 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 were running again with full capacity and the waiting list of the Institute is again extensive. There were four persons with international protection status accommodated by either night shelters or temporary shelters of BMSZKI in 2021. One of the residents though applied soon after his admittance to be placed in the workers’ hostel where better accommodation opportunities are available (but also the costs are higher). The Temporary Family Shelter accommodated two refugee families in 2021. In addition, BMSZKI had to separate 136 places for quarantine purposes to the detriment of two night shelters. Here, homeless people from the territory of the metropolitan are placed in case they are infected by COVID-19. BMSZKI reports that in 2022 they had no housing programme specifically targeting beneficiaries of international protection. They accommodated 3 Pakistani refugee families in 2022, otherwise their housing provision services concerned beneficiaries of temporary protection.[12]

Issues in accessing the housing market

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 they can use the address as their 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.

The Jesuit Refugee Service and the Lutheran Church reported that the pandemic exposed 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. In 2021, many moved to smaller flats in order to be able to pay the rent. The Jesuit Refugee Service provided financial and social support to a total of 56 persons (18 families and 8 single persons) last year in order to alleviate the difficulties people faced due to the pandemic. Among other the organization distributed food, medicine and hygienic allowances and in kind contributions too.

The Hungarian Maltese Charity Service started a state-AMIF funded project that will run for one year and aims at the integration of the Afghan refugees rescued by the Hungarian Defence Forces from Afghanistan in the end of August 2021.[13] The organisation helped them move out from the reception facilities at the end of October and provided them with comprehensive assistance including housing in the metropolitan. In addition, a group of civilian volunteers started assisting the families with in kind donations, such as clothes, furniture, kitchen equipment, toys, etc. According to the Director of the NDGAP, the Afghan evacuees will be granted national permanent residence permit via the discretionary powers of the Minister of Interior. Medical assistance is also ensured for them for 18 months.[14]

 

 

 

[1] Section 41(1) Asylum Decree.

[2] Information provided by the NDGAP on 13 February 2023.

[3] Pósfai, Zs., Szabó, L., Policy Analysis and Proposal for the Improvement of the Housing of Beneficiaries of Internaitonal Protection in Hungary, Social Integration of Beneficiaries of International Protection in Hungary – NIEM Policy Briefs, Institute of Public Affairs (Poland) and Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants, 2021, available at https://bit.ly/3HbE39U, 5.

[4] EASO, Description of the Hungarian asylum system, May 2015, available at: https://bit.ly/3xO3DiN, 10.

[5] 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.

[6] Information received from Menedék Association by the HHC on 28 Ferbuary 2023.

[7] Information received from the Jesuiit Refugee Service by the HHC on 3 March 2023.

[8] Baptist.hu, ‘Elkészült a Baptista Integrációs Központ családok átmeneti otthonának új épülete’, 12 June 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3AXSnS0.

[9] Information received from Kalunba Non-Profit Organisation by the HHC on 6 February 2023.

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

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

[12] Information received from BMSZKI by the HHC on 13 February 2023.

[13] The project is funded by the Government together with EU funds (AMIF), see the minutes of the meeting of the Human Rights Working Group on Asylum and Migration held on 12 November 2021, available here: https://bit.ly/3G3bv1z.

[14] Ibid.

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