The homeless activists of The City is for All and their allies were holding hands, telling poems and singing around the chairs of the Budapest City Council members in the council’s assembly room at 8.15am on Thursday, November 14th. The group’s aim was to prevent the assembly from passing an ordinance, which extends the criminalization of homeless people to a major large part of the city. With this demonstration, we have made it clear that homelessness is an inacceptable condition, which should be eliminated through social policy and not punitive measures.
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.