Apartments inhabited mainly by Roma to be demolished in Ózd, northern Hungary
Hungarian press reported on May 28 that the Ózd City Council has decided to pull down a building occupied by 45 families, most of whom are Roma. Utilities were disconnected in the Autumn of 1996 as a result of arrears in utility bills. As a result of a lack of electricity and running water, sanitary conditions in the building deteriorated rapidly. Since the City Council has no legal obligation to secure housing for evicted tenants who do not have legal title to their apartments, the fate of those families is unknown.
The Ózd situation is only one incident in the wave of evictions of Hungarian Roma occurring primarily due to inability to pay rent or utility fees. Moreover, the housing procedures of many district or city councils deprive those residing without legal title in apartments owned by the council from being able to receive council housing in the future.
In addition to the economic causes of evictions, racial prejudice appears to be a motivating factor in some cases. According to Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minorities Jenő Kaltenbach, there have been at least 30 cases of villagers wanting to get rid of Roma living in their villages since 1989. Mr. Kaltenbach stated that 2.1 percent of the Hungarian Roma have already been victims of eviction and 3.8 percent of liquidation of settlements. (ERRC)