The Criminalization of the Homeless in Hungary

by Kevin James Moore

A homeless shelter in Hungary

Cleared out of bridge underpasses, hiding in underground stations, finding refuge in forests, the homeless people of Budapest feel they are being treated as fugitives on the run. This has FEANSTA, the European Federation of Nation Organizations working with the homeless, expressing concerns over concerted attacks in Hungary. The country is seeking punitive measures against dumpster-diving and street sleeping and FEANTSA foresees this leading to the criminalization of the homeless.

Most of the focus on the growing trend to enforce laws that will lead to the imprisonment of the homeless is falling on the shoulders of István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest. Tarlós has said, “those who believe that all problems would be solved if homeless people were given housing […] are mistaken.”

The Mayor of Budapest believes his city is following the strict regulations set forth by other European nations that include Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, and Holland. FEANSTA has countered with evidence that even though many European nations apply strict rules for services that grant the homeless funding and support, there are no laws in those countries that threaten significant fines or imprisonment as in Hungary.

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