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Researching the housing need in Hungary

Poverty housing has many faces and affects people in various ways. This is especially true for a country like Hungary, coming from a painful transition process.

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Multi-apartment blocks were a housing solution in the days of communism. They are still a home for many people.

Ever since its foundation, Habitat for Humanity Hungary has been seeking effective ways to address issues of poverty housing in the country. The more Habitat worked with families in need and cooperated with partner organisations or experts, the more the organization realised that accomplishing its mission of eliminating poverty housing and homelessness was also a learning process.

By identifying communities’ primary housing needs, Habitat can adjust programs to serve the neediest first. A comprehensive housing research on Hungary commissioned this year from the Metropolitan Research Institute Budapest was a step in this direction.

The primary aim of the research was to get a general overview of all groups affected by inadequate housing, their typical needs, general trends of the state housing policies, as well as assessing previous and ongoing initiatives to address the need.

The result is a detailed study that will help Habitat design sustainable programs to tackle the problem of inadequate housing. According to the collected data, quantitative housing shortage prevailed in Hungary in the socialist era, and housing policy strove to increase the number of newly built houses. However, in the last decades the qualitative problem came to the forefront.

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A row of Habitat houses in Hungary.

Today, one of the most acute problems are overcrowded homes with lack of basic facilities. The study showed that 40 percent of housing units built in 1980 had no bathroom and 27 percent had only one room. People are still living in these homes with no possibility to improve substandard housing conditions.

At the same time, the affordability of housing expenses poses another serious problem especially for low-income social groups. This is not only because of low income, due to unemployment or disadvantaged situations such as health problems, but because of the high utility costs in certain districts. According to the study, over 20% of Hungarian households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses.

The table below shows main groups affected by poverty housing and types of interventions that can help them. The bottom row in green specifies existing programs of Habitat for Humanity Hungary.

Types of intervention
vs. Groups

Ownership programs

Social rental

Renovations and Rehabilitations

Supporting Housing Costs and Debt

Young low-income families and single parents

+

++

-

-

Segregated communities

-

++

+

+

The elderly

-

-

++

++

Leaving special institutions (prisons, shelters, orphanages)

-

++

+

+

Habitat Solution

New simple, decent homes that families buy through state grants

Renovations to improve social rental units

Renovations in condominiums and homes of low-income tenants

Renovation loans and complex Poverty Relief programs

Legend: - not recommended; + recommended; ++ strongly recommended

The research has also reconfirmed that not all is lost on the fight against poverty housing. Through determination and joint work, with communities and concerned people, it can be solved, if not completely at least substantially!

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Bulgaria.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in this country.

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