On the heels of uproar regarding the scheduled closure of a hospital that caters to the homeless, the government extended the deadline and the Szabolcs Str. homeless hospital has until June 30th to clear the premises, the minister in charge with the case recently announced. The homeless care center’s future, however, is still unknown, as no replacement property or alternative solution has been offered and the Budapest mayor still insists on defending the center.
It made headlines last week that in the middle of the pandemic the homeless hospital in Budapest Szabolcs Str. (13th district) would have to move out after the National Asset Management Inc. (MNV) terminated their rental contract. Many media outlets suspected a property dealing linked to Fidesz-circles in the background, the case quickly caused outrage and Karácsony promised to defend the homeless care complex at any cost.
Meanwhile, 19 homeless-focused charity organizations also jointly asked the government not to increase the pressure on healthcare or homelessness situation by shutting the complex. In addition, opposition district leaders also took a stance by the hospital.
Government: Renovation is needed, Karácsony failed to resolve the situation
In her reaction, similar to the National Asset Management, the minister without portfolio in charge of National Assets, also blamed the Budapest Mayor for the situation. Andrea Mager writes that they informed the capital’s leadership nine months before the contract’s expiration; Gergely Karácsony, however, “apart from exchanging correspondence, hadn’t taken any substantive steps by his own initiative to resolve the situation” during that time.
Mager also argues that consistent utilization of the real estate complex is justified by the fact that most of the buildings have been out of use for a long time, their condition has deteriorated, consequently making renovation necessary. She added that after the refurbishment works, the complex will continue to host healthcare facilities. She claimed that it wouldn’t eventually be the National Medicines and Food Health Institute (OGYÉI) to use them afterwards, as they would move into another unused building.
On the other hand, the minister extended the evacuation deadline until June.
Karácsony: a Fidesz property-dodging ploy cannot jeopardize care for those most vulnerable
In his reaction, Karácsony labels Mager’s letter to be full of deliberate misinterpretations. Besides publishing the letters he sent so far to government officials on the matter, he once again insisted that he wouldn’t let the hospital go anywhere as long as the epidemic poses any danger to the patients, or until the government offers a suitable venue to replace the current one. In reference to the Fidesz-led government’s move to bring the hospital under their oversee in 2010, Karácsony argues it is the government’s responsibility to find an alternative venue for the hospital, the capital has no suitable property for the purpose.
The mayor, by providing records of the situation, rebuffs criticism that the conditions in the complex wouldn’t be adequate enough. “I certainly won’t allow the property-dodging ploy of Fidesz oligarchs to jeopardize the operation of a hospital where the most vulnerable people are cared for,” he insisted.
Since the government hasn’t offered any alternative property or solution and Karácsony is apparently ready to fight, this is probably not where the case will end.
featured image: Gergely Karácsony (r) visiting the hospital; via Facebook