The Hungarian Organization “The City is for all” and the “European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City” called for three days of international solidarity action against the criminalization of homelessness by the Hungarian government. Local groups in 15 cities organized protests between 13th and 15th February 2014.
What does a public space mean? Currently, public spaces such as ports, parks, shores, squares, green areas, shortly spaces that should be open to the free access of the public have been commercialized, privatized by central and/or local governments which no longer act to manage but to sell their cities just like entrepreneurs. Wilderness, mountains, water and air that used to be our common home before the civilization loomed over us, are today usurped by global capital hand in hand with collaborationist states We are charged for setting our feet in the forest, we are charged when drinking water .The legalised racketeering gangs and the internalised violence organised as the police and the army constitute what is called the state. Those powers that practice usurpation and seizure, criminalize the residents of occupation settlements, the homeless, the children forced to work on the street, the people forced to migrate, the squatter-builder in need, as ‘’thieves, terrorists and inferiors’’ who in fact try to reclaim what is already theirs. Acquiring private property and closing its door against the outsiders are viewed as ways of being superior.
Initiated by Hungarian homeless advocacy group The City is for All, local groups in 9 countries are organizing solidarity events to protest against the criminalization of homelessness in Hungary. The persecution of homeless people is in violation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Being homeless is not a crime!”
“The City is for All” (Budapest) invites the friends all over the world to join the struggle against the criminalisation of homelessness in Hungary by action between Feb, 13th and Feb. 15th. The European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and the City supports the call.
On November 14, 2013 the General Assembly of Budapest passed a local law that designated the majority of Budapest as an area where engaging in “habitual residence in public space” is an infraction punishable by community work, fine and ultimately jail. In this way, street homelessness has become criminalized in the capital of Hungary along with several major cities that have passed similar local laws in the past few weeks. The City is for All has made a video with English subtitles about the areas designated in Budapest as homeless-free zones.
The members of A Város Mindenkié (The City is for All) are homeless and formerly homeless people, those struggling with housing problems and their allies, who all work together for an egalitarian and just society.
Our group is based on voluntary work and provides an opportunity for homeless people to stand up for their dignity and fight for the right to housing. Homeless people play a leading role at all levels of our organization. The City is for All organizes campaigns and actions to defend homeless people’s rights, advocate for their interests and change the negative social perception of homelessness.
We also work with the media to change the idea that homeless people are helpless and hopeless, and to show that we too are able to stand up for our rights and human dignity. Our group is primarily represented by homeless people in public.
As we fight against all forms of stigmatiza-tion and discrimination, it is very important for us to actively cooperate with other marginalized groups.
The City is for All has two working groups.
The Housing working group aims to call the attention of decision-makers and citi-zens to the consequences of the lack of a housing policy: public housing is scarce, the general condition of the existing housing stock is very poor and it is inaccessible for those who need affordable housing the most. There are many vacant housing units that could be turned into housing for homeless people. The group is committed to codifying the right to housing and to disseminating the “Housing first” approach as an alternative to shelters.
The Interest-ed working group aims to protect the rights and interests of homeless people living in social institutions or on the streets. We work in institutions dealing with homeless people so they can take an active part in making decisions about issues that affect them directly. To this end, we organize trainings for homeless advocates and social workers and we also work on community-building projects in institutions for the homeless. In order to protect the rights of people living in public spaces we published a know-your-rights booklet, which we have distributed to thousands of homeless people. The working group also fights against the unlawful evictions of shack-dwellers.
The City Is for All Academy provides an opportunity for continuous personal and professional development for our members. Our courses have included community or-ganizing, history of social movement, speech delivery, conflict resolution, filmmaking, and mentoring.
The City is for All runs a weekly radio program on Muzsikus radio, the first ever radio show in Hungary edited exclusively by homeless people.