The City is For All

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AVM Antipovertyday 17, Oct., 2015

The City is For All is a volunteer based grassroots organization operating in Budapest (Hungary), in which homeless (currently or past) and non-homeless activists work together for housing rights and social justice.

The organization operates as an informal advocacy group. It is an independent group that depends on the volunteer work contribution and financial support of its members. The group represents a wide range of people living in poverty and/or homelessness. The group’s goal is to empower homeless people to stand up for their human dignity and to fight for right to housing. Homeless people play a leading role in all aspects of the group.

A protest for housing rights

History[edit]

The organization was formed with homeless and non-homeless participants of a workshop held by Picture The Homeless from New York, after their visit in Budapest in August, 2009.[1][2] The workshops were financially supported by the Projects for Peace initiative.[3]

The founding of the organization has been inspired by the Right to the City concept formulated by Henri Lefebvre and David Harvey, and the organization is a member of the Hungarian Right to the City alliance.[4]

Activities[edit]

"Dignity for everyone" - Marching at the Budapest Pride 2009

The City is for All regularly organizes events that contribute to the protection of homeless people’s rights, advocate for their interests, and change the social perception of homeless people.

The group has been involved in an anti-eviction campaign, including civil disobedience against forced evictions.[5][6][7][8][9]

The group frequently appears in the media in order to change the misconception that homeless people are incapable and hopeless.[10][11][12][13]

This City is For All works together with other grassroots organizations representing the concerns of marginalized and oppressed groups. It cultivates international connections as well, exemplified by participation in the European Social Forum, in the Social Action Exchange project,[14] in the International Alliance of Inhabitants [15] or a discussion of student and homeless activists with American geographer Neil Smith and Canadian academic Deborah E. Cowen in 2010.[16] The group participated in the 2009 FEANTSA conference "Sharing the power - working together: Participation as a tool to solve homelessness" in Copenhagen [17][18] and in the 2010 University of Barcelona - Associació Prohabitatge - FEANTSA conference "Housing Rights: from Theory to Practice" in Barcelona.[19]

In the June 2010, the group held a workshop for Slovenian social workers and homeless people on self-organizing at a conference organized by Slovenian street newspaper NGO Kings of the Street.[20]

Two members of the organization observe and participate in the meetings of the Council of Ten, which is the consultative body of homeless service providers in Budapest.

The City is For All also acts as an advocate for homeless people using the shelter system by processing complaints and concerns about social services and forwarding them to the responsible authorities and representing the claimants.

The group continuously organizes outreach sessions in homeless shelters and drop-in centers to make homeless people aware of their rights and to promote their self-determination.

Organizational Structure[edit]

The City is For All works in working groups and also has weekly plenary sessions discussing general issues and the reports of the teams. The organization has four working groups.

Civil disobedience against a forced eviction
  • Housing Working Group: The team works on a housing rights campaign that aims to pressure the authorities to adapt, implement and expand different forms of social and public housing in Hungary. The issue of unused real estate properties in the city is also included in the campaign. These apartments (after legal issues are resolved and volunteers are recruited) could provide residence to those homeless people who live in public space, in shelters or are invisible.
  • Social Services Working Group: The team protects and promotes the rights of homeless people in order to receive proper social services and empowers them to participate directly in the decisions that affect them. The team is in contact with the directors of homeless shelters in Budapest.
  • Public Space Working Group: The team protects the rights of homeless people who live on and use public spaces. The team provides training and informative brochures about legal issues and operates a mobile, street-corner legal clinic in co-operation with other legal advocacy organizations.
  • Media Working Group: The team is responsible for the development and realization of media strategies. The group organizes all media appearances. They publish reports on the work of the organization in Budapest’s homeless newspapers and run a weekly radio program on a non-profit internet radio station.

References[edit]

Article written on the basis of the organization's homepage.

  1. ^ Picture the Homeless blog on their Hungarian workshops
  2. ^ Picture the Homeless speaks about their Hungarian experiences in New York (The Indypendent article)
  3. ^ Davis Projects for Peace project: Bringing the Bronx to Budapest
  4. ^ Right to the City - Jogunk a Városhoz
  5. ^ News on the group's anti-eviction campaign on the homepage of the International Alliance of Inhabitants
  6. ^ "We are poor, but not criminals" (Article from hirszerzo.hu - in Hungarian)
  7. ^ Anti-eviction protestors taken away by police (Article from blikk.hu - in Hungarian)
  8. ^ "We won't go anywhere, the family has nowhere to go either" (A video of a direct action from index.hu - in Hungarian)
  9. ^ A post on the All for Taking about a direct action
  10. ^ Video of a protest against spatial exclusion of homeless people (from hvg.hu - in Hungarian)
  11. ^ Another video of a protest against spatial exclusion of homeless people (from index.hu - in Hungarian)
  12. ^ An article in the conservative daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet (in Hungarian)
  13. ^ An article in the liberal daily newspaper Népszabadság (in Hungarian)
  14. ^ Jewish Leadership/Social Action Exchange 2009-11
  15. ^ (Almost all) Evictions banned in Hungary (article in IAA homapege)
  16. ^ Beszélgetés Neil Smith professzorral (In Hungarian)
  17. ^ A group member speaks about the conference
  18. ^ Sharing the power - working together: Participation as a tool to solve homelessness (FEANTSA homepage)
  19. ^ Housing Rights Watch Conference - Housing Rights: from Theory to Practice. Barcelona, Spain 6 May 2010.
  20. ^ Slovenia: Conference on social exclusion, poverty and homelessness

External links[edit]