On Tuesday, a code red for cold weather came into operation in three regions in Hungary, meaning that all social services are now obliged to take in people who are homeless or in distress. Some places are full. Almost twice as many people have frozen to death this year than two years ago.
The “red alert”, during which many of the capital’s organisations operate as night shelters, means that everyone is accommodated in the extreme cold. BKK drivers and the staff of the Municipal Police Directorate of Budapest (FÖRI) are also keeping a close eye on the homeless.
The dispatching service run by the Menhely Alapítvány (Shelter Foundation) is coordinating more crisis vans and street social workers than usual to ensure that help arrives as quickly as possible in response to calls. Mayor Gergely Karácsony drew attention to the fact that “a significant number of deaths from cold in Budapest do not occur in public places, but in unheated dwellings. Particular attention should be paid to elderly people living alone”. He asked all Budapest citizens to call the Shelter Foundation’s dispatch service if they encounter a homeless person in need of help.
According to data from the dispatching service run by the Shelter Foundation, in recent days, the occupancy rate in Budapest’s night shelters has reached 80 percent, leaving a total of 350-400 places available. The problem with accommodation facilities is not one of quantity but of quality.
However, the number of people staying in night shelters and temporary accommodation, and the capacity utilisation rate have decreased in Budapest over the last 5-7 years, except during periods of crisis. Thus, even on the coldest days, occupancy rates do not rise above 90 percent.
“Despite the relatively mild winter, almost 100 people had already frozen to death in the country by the time the code red was announced in mid-January,”
However, homelessness is far from being the problem of only the capital city. Currently, two counties – Nógrád and Tolna – have night shelters with occupancy rates of over 120 percent, Budapest’s municipality told Népszava. Because of this, social workers sometimes refer the homeless from other municipalities to shelters in Budapest.
Almost two million people live in housing poverty in Hungary, with an estimated 12-14 thousand homeless people in the country, half of them in Budapest. The number of homeless people has fallen by a fifth in the last two years, which experts explain by a shortage of labour.
Last year at this time – between the beginning of October 2021 and the beginning of January 2022 – 82 people froze to death, compared with 55 at the same time of year a year earlier.
Source: népszava.hu, hvg.hu
Quote of St Francis of Assisi:
“The Deeds you do may be the only Sermon some person will hear today.”
These times – we ALL are living in them, in Hungary.
“Share the Pain” – driven by our SOLIDARITY as communities as a Country.
Those from “Stations in Life” – the less fortunates than us, that grow rapidly in number in Hungary, its end, the disturbing & unknow, the Deeds we do for them, a smile even, let them not be FORGOTTEN.
Rather than spending all those monies on billboards (lambasting the EU), why can’t VO spend it on all the homeless?
…Most of us can hand them a K bill or two, but that’s not going to keep them warm, that’s not going to give them a roof over their heads.