Budapest is facing an increasingly severe housing crisis, making it nearly impossible to get affordable housing in the capital.
According to Népszava, due to the rising real estate prices, considerably more people are moving out to the agglomeration than moving into the inner districts of Budapest. However, those moving to the outer districts continue to travel into the city centre for work and services, causing a considerable increase in car traffic in the city. Budapest’s housing market is unpredictable and expensive but often a hotbed of illegal practices: landlords rarely turn to the authorities with problematic cases. Instead, they often resort to unlawful methods (for example, by disconnecting the utility supply in the apartment if the tenant does not pay). Additionally, according to Bálint Misetics, the mayor’s chief housing and social policy adviser, there are no affordable housing options for large sections of the population, as discrimination against families with small children, Roma people, and other minorities is very strong in the private rental sector.
Gergely Karácsony, the mayor of Budapest, has promised to tackle the unsustainable housing crisis in his program.
He proposed a housing agency to support the construction of non-profit housing, renovate and rent out the municipality’s own properties and provide a safe way for private owners and local authorities to utilize their vacant homes.
The promise is now close to implementation, claims 444.hu. Funded by an EU fund supporting social innovation, the local government of Budapest, the Utcáról Lakásba (“from street to house”) Association and Városkutatás Kft. have announced that they are working on setting up such an organization. As social housing construction would require a considerable investment, the commissioned professional team is trying to involve the local authorities and private owners instead.
In the social housing agency model, the owner rents their apartment through an agency for less (usually by 20-25%) than the market price. The agency, in turn, is responsible for selecting tenants and ensuring that they pay the rent. This way, the agency undertakes the risks of renting out the properties while taking social considerations into account during the selection process.
The municipality is ready to make at least part of its own housing stock available to the housing agency.
However, the actual novelty is the private housing stock’s inclusion, as there are plenty of privately owned empty flats in the capital. The Utcáról Lakásba Association is already applying the social housing model in practice. In the case of private dwellings, the association offers to take over the renovation costs in exchange for participating in the program. This can be a great motivation for some homeowners, while others (e.g., owners living abroad) welcome the agency’s help in arranging the rental. The agency mediation would also be a valuable tool in making the rental market more regulated and fairer for both sides.
The ultimate goal is to provide affordable housing for as many people as possible.
According to the plans, the agency could be set up as early as this year. The team is not afraid that the proposal will be lost in the absence of a political will, as a solution to the housing crisis seems to be equally important to all parties.
Source: by Zsuzsa Varga