Beginning Monday, this week, the police has the authority to remove rough sleepers from the streets and confiscate their belongings. The minister of state for social affairs and inclusion, Attila Fülöp, said Saturday that the law “serves the interest of society as a whole” and that there were “sufficient places in the institutions that provide care for the homeless.” Bence Retvari, parliamentary state secretary of human resources, said the ban will stop people sleeping in forests in winter, preventing them from freezing to death. “The only way to get back on your feet after becoming homeless starts from getting temporary accommodation, because from there they can get social support, clothes, jobs, community work and training”, he also said.
Sleeping in the street
The government was working with charities and had funnelled nine billion forints to solve the problem. The homeless ban was proposed in June. Critics have said enforcing the ban would be impossible and this is all about numbers. According to Budapest-based NGO The City Belongs to Everybody, there are only an estimated 11,000 places available in temporary accommodation for 30,000 homeless people in Hungary. Zolton Aknai, director of the Shelter Foundation, also said „there are a lots of people with addiction, with mental health or psychiatric problems” but the system lacks specialists. The United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, said in June that this initiative raised “concerns of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against homeless people and persons without housing.” Some homeless people say they prefer to sleep on the street over a space in one of the overcrowded country’s homeless shelters.