Urban Alternatives is launched by a collaboration of different actors which are united in their efforts to create a more democratic, just and sustainable world. This map seeks to highlight initiatives that work towards this goal. Proposal for initiatives not listed yet can be made directly on the website. This process is open to new collaborations.


A varos mindenkie

Inclusive Housing & Public Space

What challenges did this initiative look to address?

The Hungarian Parliament has passed a series of laws since 2013 that facilitate the persecution of homeless people. Sleeping in public space has been banned on the pretext of eliminating homelessness. In October 2018 the legislative amendment prescribing harsher punishment for the offence of rough sleeping entered into force. Courts had declared an earlier attempt by prime minister Viktor Orban’s far-right government to outlaw homelessness to be unconstitutional. Writing the ban into the Basic Law makes it now harder to challenge it legally.

Under the new law, the police can issue warnings to those sleeping on the streets; after having been warned more than four times within 90 days, a homeless person faces prison or up to six months in public works programmes.

A Varos Mindenkie stands up for the right of homeless people and heavily criticized the law. They organize demonstrations and provide information on policies in order for homeless people to stay informed about their rights and potential threats by the government.

What has changed?

A Varos Mindenkie claims that the ban and the threat of jail time for violators are unlikely to solve the issue of rough sleeping, especially when many of those on the streets need medical and psychological care most shelters can’t provide.

They organize large-scale demonstrations for everyone, linked to protecting the rights of homeless people and enforcing their interests. Through their action and by appearing regularly in the press, they are contributing to changing the social perception of homelessness and homeless people in Hungarian society. Hungarian society has reacted to this new piece of legislation in diverse ways, but the wave of solidarity with homeless people and mass resistance against the law are stronger than ever before.

A Varos Mindenkie works with other grass-roots NGOs dealing with housing and disadvantaged groups to take strong joint action against social exclusion. They act as an interest representative of homeless people, examining and forwarding complaints about social services and organizing public debates to raise awareness of the rights of homeless people, to help them organize themselves.

How did it happen?

A Varos Mindenkie was established in August 2009 as an informal group with no legal constitution. Until today, they have collaborated on a continuous basis through working groups, based on basic democratic principles, striving for consensual decision-making. Weekly plenary sessions discuss current issues. In the group's activities, homeless people play a leading role. One of their working groups launched a housing campaign that draws the attention of decision-makers and citizens to the vacant properties in Budapest that can help to create a permanent home for people who are now homeless. It also aims to force public authorities to exert pressure on the various forms of supported housing (e.g. social housing) in Hungary.

Another group works towards strengthening and developing the interest in protection among social institutions concerning homeless people so that service users can actively participate in the decision making process affecting them. The purpose of the Public Space Working Group is to protect the rights of homeless people in public spaces and use them. To this end, it distributes legal educational leaflets, carries out training sessions and provides medical support.

The Media Working Group is responsible for developing and implementing the media strategy of A Varos Mindenkie. To this end, it organizes media appearances, edits a weekly online radio program, publishes articles about the group's activities in the capital's streets, and manages the website.