In a Press release issued earlier in January the Hungarian Ombudsman, László Székely presented for the first time his recommendations concerning the improvement of the Hungarian housing situation.
Mr. Székely highlights that both the "State and the local governments should use any disposable means and cooperate more actively with NGOs and the civil society as a whole."
Overall, despite significant improvements since the 1990’s, homelessness is stillon the rise in Hungary. In the last 5 years there were at least 50.000 people who experienced homelessness by sleeping rough or residing in a homeless shelter for a shorter or longer period of their lives. Also, the Hungarian law that came into effect on 15 October 2013 makes the situation worse, criminalising homeless people who “reside habitually in public premises”.
In connection with the extremely cold weather, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, László Székely emphasized that in such weather no one should be left out in the cold, without help and a roof above their head.
The Ombudsman pointed out that, although rendering assistance is primarily the task of the State and the local governments, all citizens also bear responsibility for each other and, in particular, for their fellow citizens who are vulnerable and in need. "During the cold days and nights of winter, solidarity, humanity and, in particular, paying attention to and helping the elderly, the sick and our fellow men may save lives", he said. The Commissioner underlined that "we should make prevention a common cause if we do not want this winter period be accompanied by tragedies".
The Ombudsman suggested that central and local governmentalal authorities should pay more attention to the operation of the warning system and, if needed, establish a monitoring service.
In any case it is certain that there are many issues to tackle in Hungary such as big waiting lists for municipal housing, the lack of social rental housing, private rental affordability and the high cost of home ownership.