Living in the streets, without goals or a future
The homeless phenomenon has always been a problem. It even existed before the turnover in a hidden way. Since the beginning of society, the issue and the need to care for them has been on the agenda. Whom do we call homeless? What shall we do with them? Would it be possible to reintegrate them into society?
The definition of homelessness
According to the Law of Social Administration and Care of 1993/III., the homeless are defined as people who spend their nights on public land or other places that do not serve as a home. Furthermore, those who do not have a registered address, except if their registered address is that of the homeless shelter.
There is a difference between homeless and homeless. They can be categorised according to why and in what ways they became deprived of a home. The most important thing is that for one reason or another, they had to start living in the streets and were constrained to the peripheries of society. Some of them have succeeded in becoming real members of society again, but some of them haven’t.
The main reasons for becoming homeless:
- divorce: divorced men and women who lose their homes;
- becoming an orphan: children who leave state care;
- unemployment: the termination of workplaces, inability to pay, termination of rent;
- domestic violence: women escaping from domestic violence;
- low salaries: high rent, bills, minimal salary, eviction;
- escape: as a new phenomenon, the eviction of refugees from refugee camps.
According to the vice president of the Hungarian Maltese Charity Service, Miklós Vecsei, we can talk about homelessness if it can be recognised without doubt. In his view, an individual becomes homeless if he lost his goals and together with that, his picture of the future as well. When the lack of these things occurs, we talk about real homelessness. If we recognise this and treat it in a proper way, we can start rehabilitation, but even in this, society plays an essential role. Without the help of people, there is no real rehabilitation. Because of this, it is also important what kind of message the participants of society transmit, and what kind of decisions they make in connection with homeless people.
Homeless catering system
The homeless catering system is extremely complex, and they try to extend their already existing services year by year. The experts in the role of carrying out tasks are competent and day after day, fight to find homeless people, look after them, improve them, and restore their skills needed for an independent life, to habilitate and rehabilitate them. Today we can talk about social work in the streets, the operation of crisis lines, daytime shelters, night time shelters, temporary shelters, institutions for the rehabilitation of the homeless, and a home for the homeless. These forms of catering are there for thousands of homeless people, and they are there to make the lives of those living in the streets easier. Each service has its own advantages and disadvantages.
According to Miklós Vecsei, the catering service works well, but it could still improve. In his opinion, the most important task is reaching out to homeless people and including them in rehabilitation processes. On the other hand, these processes are hugely influenced by the reasons why homelessness came into being.
“In general, the problem is not that we cannot provide a place for them, but that they do not want to accept it.” – says Miklós Vecsei.
Those people living in the streets who have been without a home for years are incredibly hard to get to accept help. Because of this, the question arises where the boundary can be drawn, where the responsibility of the specialists lay when they say that they will leave those alone who keep rejecting the help offered to them. It is not easy to decide this because we have to evaluate to what extent a person can be left to determine their fate.
These days, a lot of legal changes have been made in the sphere of homelessness. According to Miklós Vecsei, for a complete solution, these modifications are not sufficient. Moreover, today we face a lot more complex problem than in the old times if we hear about people living without a shelter. Besides, it also happens that on colder nights, the homeless shelters receive not only homeless people, but also impoverished individuals who cannot pay for the heating of their flats and because of this, we need a holistic change of attitude and solution and in this, the participation of society is indispensable.
The elimination of homelessness in the European Union
In the European Union, in 2001, there were 6.6 million registered homeless people. Out of this, in Hungary, according to the statistics of 2010, their number was around 38.000. In several member states, we can talk about progress in the sphere of homelessness, but the construction of political support and coordination on the EU level are still needed. In the past few years, some significant developments aimed at the elimination of homelessness were implemented within the EU’s strategy against poverty. The common report of the Council and Committee of 2010 on the social protection and inclusion invites the member states to develop such strategies which are aimed at prevention, the decrease in the number of evictions as well as the moving of people, and offer the availability of further support as well.
The European Parliament accepted a written declaration that orders the Council to accept the commitment to eliminate street homelessness until 2015. The Committee of Regions published a report in which they describe how the fight against homelessness can become one of the priorities of the EU’s social inclusion policy and especially that of the Europe 2020 strategy.
Translated by Judit Molnár