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Low-income Housing Project Made Impossible in Soroksár After Local Uproar

Ábrahám Vass 2021.01.13.

The ‘From Street To Home Association’ would have to step down with millions in losses after Soroksár’s (Budapest’s 23th district) Fidesz-majority leadership imposed a ban on changes to their site, making the realization of the project impossible. The organization wished to set up mobile flats to rent to those who face difficulty with housing. 

The ‘From Street To Home Association’s’ (or ‘ULE’ after its Hungarian abbreviation) goal is to fight homelessness, either by directly helping families or by developing model programs that provide housing. For example, they buy (and renovate) rundown flats or set up new (mostly mobile) homes and rent them out to the homeless or those in need of housing for a discounted fee.


Those on the receiving end usually do earn a living and can pay the discounted rental fee. Applicants also undergo a careful and selective application process. The Association additionally helps those involved in many ways, such as with regular guidance or assistance in finding jobs. As a matter of fact, ULE’s projects have so far allowed some 70 people to find reliable housing. Those beneficiaries come from various backgrounds: homeless, hut dwellers, mothers with children, or handicapped couples.

This was their goal in Soroksár too, where they bought a plot in order to set up a 3-apartment mobile house to rent to 4-7 people. This would have been their second project in the city after another two flats had already been delivered, that reportedly went ahead without any problems whatsoever.

After the initial barrier-free preparations (the purchase deal had been completed following a consultation with the district’s chief architect, for instance) opposition to the project arose in August, perhaps not independently of certain locals’ opposition. A previously unknown organization began to spread leaflets saying that a homeless shelter would be built on the premises. The mayor claimed that some 600 signatures had been collected to prevent the initiative. The siuation became tense in Soroksár, and ULE founder Vera Kovács faced verbal threats.

In any case, the district’s independent but Fidesz-backed mayor, Ferenc Bese and his majority in the assembly, eventually set to prevent the building’s construction. They pointed to the already existing homeless shelters in the district which house around 500 hundred people and reportedly cause a lot of headache for the locals and authorities. Opposing representatives also said that locals would fear for their children, and that land prices were going down in the district, something that the newcomers would push down even further.

ULE on the other hand, highlights that these homes only house couples or small families, therefore chances for problems caused by the huge shelters would be minimal.

Debate and opposition to the plans eventually culminated in the issue of a ban on changes on the effected site (and nearby properties too), voted in by the pro-government representatives, putting an end to the project’s future in Soroksár.

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ULE was at least promised that the site would be bought by the district so that they can restart the project somewhere else. The Association now says the plot plus initial works so far cost them around HUF 15 million (EUR 42,000), a quarter of the Association’s annual budget. But according to an asset valuer, instead of the original HUF 11.5 million, the plot is now worth a lot less, around HUF 4.5 million (EUR 12,500), and the final sum is unlikely to reach 15 million, which the district leadership’s proposal also confirms.

It is now exclusively up to the mayor to decide on the sum the district would offer to the Association.

featured image illustration via From Street To Home Association- Facebook