Budapest: Fidesz aims to expropriate residential buildings and evict 200 poor families

17 April 2024

By Bernard Rorke

In a move described by opposition Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony as a “grave, inhumane, lowly and cynical attack against Budapest and the 8th district”, the regime plans to expropriate 10 residential buildings and evict 200 families, many of whom are Roma and living in poverty.  

According to the district mayor, András Pikó, the municipality did not receive any prior notification, and only learned about the whole affair following a question from a journalist. The move to seize the buildings was hidden in a so-called ‘salad law’ submitted by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén on the second of April. 

The overwhelming majority of the properties are residential buildings, where typically very poor and needy families live. The government action would force the families on the streets, and make it mandatory for the municipality to house them. The problem is that the Józsefváros municipality, one of the poorest in Budapest, does not have any renovated apartments available. 

Mayor Pikó condemned the “cruel, inhumane, anti-poor decision," as an act of political revenge, timed to coincide with the forthcoming municipal elections. The government’s rationale for the state seizure of the ten properties from the Józsefváros Municipality was that it would be used for public education and higher education purposes and given to the National Public Service University to house a new teacher training course starting next September. According to the proposal justification, it is "necessary to increase the real estate portfolio under the university's asset management in order to be able to secure the real estate for the new education.”

The mayor described the whole affair as a social disaster for the district, and dismissed the government’s justification as lame, not least because the municipality has been in contact with the management of the university for years, and never once had it indicated to the municipality that the university needed these buildings.

Together with member of parliament András Jámbor, Mayor Pikó has launched an online petition and plans a demonstration in front of the National Public Service University. The municipality pledged that it “will use all means to protect our residents. Be it political or legal. We will go to every court, we will move every stone to stop this destruction."

In condemning this cynical attack on the poor by the Orbán regime, where the government would “take away their homes and leave all their troubles to the 8th district”, Budapest mayor Karácsony said that the district already had preparations underway to renovate these dwellings and develop the surrounding area. He pledged to work with district mayor Pikó and MP Jámbor “and use all political and legal tools at our disposal to thwart this inhumane plan.”



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