Hungary banishes homeless from the streets

In Hungary a law came into force this week that bans homeless people from living on the street. The ban will affect around 30,000 people who don't have their own home and who now face prison sentences if they are caught living on the streets after several warnings by the police. Some commentators see the law as inhumane; others defend it.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Christian democracy à la Orbán

Poverty is no longer being fought in Hungary, it's simply being banned, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes angrily:

“The Fidesz party with its two-thirds majority is presenting this measure as a relief programme aimed at protecting the homeless from the wind and weather. But given the lack of shelters for the homeless, many have no other choice but to sleep in the park, under a bridge or in the metro. ... In the realm of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the policy of systematic exclusion is being extended. First it was aimed at the refugees, who were all treated as terror suspects. Then it was the Roma, who were described as 'beasts' by a regime ideologist. Now poverty is also being criminalised. This is what Orbán's proclaimed 'Christian democracy' looks like.”

Mérce (HU) /

Fidesz neglected housing

Instead of banning the homeless from the streets the government should do more to promote the construction of affordable housing, Mérce demands:

“No, it didn't occur to the government that it should intervene in housing policy and promote the development of a social housing system. ... There is still nobody in charge of housing affairs at the ministerial or state secretary level and Fidesz has made more and more cuts in social benefits during its past government cycles. It's fortunate that at least the public is not remaining indifferent on the subject of this latest inhumane policy which forbids people from abiding in public places as a way of life and thus makes being homeless a punishable offence in this country.”

Magyar Idők (HU) /

Beggars deface our cities

The homeless have no business being on the streets of Hungary, writes the pro-government daily Magyar Idök:

“There are around 7,000 homeless (in Budapest) who have been integrated into the social system compared to around 300 people who aren't willing to stick to the rules in shelters for the homeless. They live on the street. They are the ones who we see day in, day out dirtying our town squares, streets and bus stops and stations. They pee on the opera house building and the Erkel Theatre. We walk around them or step over them. They beg instead of working to earn the money to cover their daily needs. They are often extremely aggressive and totally drunk.”