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HUNGARY: Tenants Unite to Improve Public Housing in Budapest

Budapest’s Józsefváros district, a multi-racial community with a large Roma population, has 134 public housing buildings with 4,000 apartments. Many are in poor condition. With support from Mandak House, a Lutheran church and community center, tenants are organizing to improve how the local government manages their buildings.

The Józsefváros Tenant Protection Association held an accountability forum with their mayor on October 19. After tenants shared stories of dangerous conditions and poor service, the mayor acknowledged that progress in improving the management of public housing would not have been possible without their pressure. He committed to additional steps in respond to demands from the tenants, including installing lockable front gates to buildings, so that the residents would be more secure.

The mayor promised that if re-elected next June, he would fundamentally change how public housing is managed so that the municipality takes a direct role in holding the private company that maintains buildings accountable. The Tenants Association vowed to continue to grow its membership and build leadership teams in additional public housing buildings.

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