“Giving back public spaces to the citizens” – The criminalization of homeless people in Hungary

Please join Jutka Lakatos, from A Varos Mindenkie (The City is for All), Budapest Hungary for a conversation on criminalization of homeless in Hungary. Rob Robinson of Take Back the Land and a volunteer in the Human Right to Housing program at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) will introduce Jutka and add a comparative perspective based on his work in NYC, Budapest and elsewhere.
Sunday, November 24. 6 PM. 16 Beaver Street.
(“We are people too” photo-AVM)
Hungary is currently the only country in the world where the Fundamental Law does not protect the rights of the poorest, but enables their criminalization. In the beginning of this year the Parliament voted for an amendment to the Constitution that gave the power to them to create national and local laws punishing people for using the public spaces for permanent living. A couple of months later the governing majority accepted legal changes making homelessness a petty offense in UNESCO heritage sites (practically in the entire downtown of Budapest) and enabling local governments for assigning further so called “homeless-free” zones. The government tries to justify its punitive measures in two ways: arguing that they need to “give back the public spaces to the citizens” or interpreting criminalization as a form of philanthropy, stating that criminalization forces homeless people to shelters and prevents them from living in public spaces. Meanwhile, the only available services for homeless people are mass shelters and there is absolutely no state attempt to work out a national housing strategy to provide affordable housing for homeless people or to prevent people from becoming homeless.
But how and why did this happen in Hungary? What was the reaction of other social actors to it? How did the government succeed to criminalize homelessness to such a great extent? What can we do to continue the fight against criminalization and how can we fight for affordable housing when the only solution for homelessness the government wants to offer is the mass sheltering system?
For the brief history of criminalization of homelessness in Hungary see: http://avarosmindenkie.blog.hu/2013/09/12/the_criminalization_of_homelessness_in_hungary_between_2010_and
About AVM

The City is for All (A Varos Mindenkie) is a Hungarian grassroots advocacy group for homeless people. Its members are homeless, formerly homeless people, those struggling with housing problems and their allies who fight together for housing rights and stand up against the criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization of homeless people. The City is for All has two main working groups. The Housing working group concentrates on housing rights and access to affordable housing, The “Interest-ed” working group fights for the rights of homeless people living in shelters and public spaces. We have a subgroup called The Homeless Women for Each Other Movement which aims to empower homeless women and a group of “streetlawyers” who provide free legal services for homeless people or people living in poverty. In the framework of the City is for All Academy, the City is for All organizes different trainings for homeless people to improve their professional and personal skills. Since 2009, when the group was founded, the City is for All has been protesting several times against the criminalization of homelessness in Hungary and for the access to affordable housing, organizing demonstrations, sit-ins and Empty Building Marches.

***** Please note that this event will be held at 16 Beaver Group space.
16 Beaver Street
Fourth Floor
New York, NY 10004Trains:
4,5 Bowling Green
R Whitehall
1,2 Wall Street
J Broad Street
A,C Broadway (a little far)
16 Beaver is located east of Bowling Green Park, between Whitehall &
Broad Sts,  on the corner Beaver & New Street#4, 5 train to Bowling Green
R (never N) to Whitehall St./Whitehall St.-South Ferry
#1 to South Ferry/Whitehall St.-South Ferry
J or rush hour Z (never M) to Broad St. (south exit to Exchange Pl.)
A, C to Broadway-Nassau (at Fulton); Broadwaybus
M15 bus via 2nd Av & Water St.
M20 bus via Varick St. & World Financial Ctr.Staten Is. Ferry to Whitehall St. Ferry Terminal

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