Hungary -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Erzsébet Tóth and her sons in front of their new home
Today Hungary is a member state of the European Union. However, as a former Eastern Bloc country Hungary is grappling with the deep scars of communist economic and social policies. In spite of many positive reforms, overcrowded housing without proper sanitation is still the reality for too many low-income families in Hungary. Of Hungary’s overall rental sector, less than 5 percent constitutes public rentals, making it one of the lowest figures in Europe.
According to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 1.2 million people live in overcrowded conditions. Single-room apartments are frequently shared by multiple families. Out of the almost 4 millions homes in Hungary, more than 400,000 lack a water pipeline. Many homes have no sewage systems, and over 670,000 lack flush toilet.
The Roma minority is particularly vulnerable to poverty housing. According to the European Roma Rights Center, about 1 million Roma live in substandard housing in Hungary. There are hundreds of urban Roma ghettoes across the country, including slums in the capital city Budapest.
Habitat in Hungary
Habitat for Humanity’s work in Hungary was sparked by the opportunity to host the Jimmy Carter Work Project in 1996. This idea led to a two-week volunteer build in Vác, where 10 homes were completed. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was among the more than 500 hard-working volunteers. Since that highly publicized beginning, more than 140 Hungarian families have moved into their own Habitat home and close to 100 had their homes renovated by HFH Hungary.
HFH now has active build sites in two communities: Hajdúböszörmény and Szarvas. In order to provide decent shelter for as many individuals as possible, Habitat’s work in Hungary places a special emphasis on families with more than one child. In addition to building simple, decent homes, HFH will intensify its family care and community-building activities to better help these families currently living in Habitat homes.
Because of the high cost of construction, Habitat’s construction work in Hungary focuses on multi-family housing options by primarily building duplexes (buildings with 2 units) or 4-unit row houses. These homes are built with simple, energy-efficient, light-frame construction and rely on volunteer friendly technologies to lower the labor cost. Average mortgage payments for homeowner families are the equivalent to approximately $230 per month. Families have an average period of 20 years to pay off their affordable, no-profit mortgage.
• HFH Hungary hosted over 500 volunteers in 2008.
• 15 homes were dedicated during 2008.
• HFH Hungary hosted over 1200 volunteers in 2004.
• New affiliate in Szarvas began construction with 4 families.
• Special partnership forged with All Nations Lions Club.
• Habitat for Humanity co-founders Millard & Linda Fuller celebrated the completion of the 75th Habitat home built in Hungary in June 2003.
• Hosted first Jimmy Carter Work Project outside North America.