Government provided €6.5 million to eliminate slum-like conditions in a Budapest street but the local council is slow to act

In 2017 the Ministry of Interior provided 2.1 billion Hungarian forints (approximately 6.5 million euros) to the district council of Kőbánya, a Budapest district that is home to the infamous, crime-ridden Hős Street blocks. The aim of the money is to solve the crisis in slum-like Hős Street, but the district has only spent only 130 million forints (402 thousand euros) so far.

In the summer of 2017, multiple news stories were published about drug-related violence in the Budapest district of Kőbánya. The incidents took place near Hős Street 15/A-B, two infamous housing blocks notorious for violence and drug abuse.

The two blocks are considered some of the few remaining slum-like neighborhoods in Budapest. The buildings were built in 1937 for poor families moving to the city from the countryside. By that time the homes were already below appropriate housing standards, with substandard apartments around the size of 26-28 m2. The two buildings consist of around 300 homes, with 5-600 people living there. About 38 percent of the inhabitants are minors.

After a series of reports about living conditions in the area, the government decided to come up with a solution. According to the plans published in the media, the district council is going to buy out the owners and start demolishing the blocks in order to build a sports facility in their place.

Until then, the district has decided to raise a fence around the slum-like blocks and hire a security guard. The residents who have already been isolated from better neighborhoods were angered by this move.

Out of the 2.1 billion forints, about 1.1 billion can be used to purchase the properties and compensate the evicted families. Another 225 million can be used for renovation and buying new apartments, and 96 million can be used to buy rental rights.

The biggest challenge is that only about half of the apartments are owned by the district council, with the rest of them being in private hands.

Atlatszo filed a freedom of information request to find out how the money is being spent. According to documents we received, only about 130 million has been spent from the government aid in the past year. About 25 million forints were spent on down payments for auctioning the apartments, while 55 million forints were spent on purchases of replacement apartments for the current inhabitants.

According to Zsuzsanna Urbanovszky, the leader of Kontúr Közhasznú Egyesület, a local NGO representing the Hős Street tenants and owners, then it’s strange that the Kőbánya municipality made such little progress in all those months – even though the council has time to spend the money until the end of 2019.

Written by Brigitta Csikász

English version by Márk Tremmel. You can read the original, Hungarian-language story here.

Cover photo: inside one of the Hős Street blocks. Photo by Kontúr Közhasznú Egyesület.