Social Worker Nick Pannell, explains how Government austerity threatens the future of a Devon seaside resort’s cherished homeless hostel

On Friday 7th November 2014, my colleague Pram Singh and I travelled to Torbay to deliver a workshop as part of our EU funded Women Rough Sleepers Research. Whilst there we met Nick Pannell, who told us about the closure of this hostel. This epitomises so many problems currently associated with welfare reform and government cutbacks which are affecting the most vulnerable people in society the most. Policy makers need to be made aware of the impact that such moves are having right across England and Wales. Please share this story if you can to raise awareness. Here is what Nick wrote:

“As a journalist in Torbay in the 1980s I remember covering a death on the street. A drug addict had overdosed and nobody realised the man under the blanket was in a coma until it was too late.

There was begging too and rough sleepers in town centre doorways, which didn’t quite match the image portrayed in the holiday brochures.

It was the churches who came forward to offer to establish Torbay’s first night shelter in Factory Row, Torquay. Like so many community projects it was spontaneous, driven forward on a tide of conscience and enthusiasm, strong enough to win planning permission in the face of the usual opposition. It was also basic, a single male dormitory with 14 beds, about three feet apart.

But it was enough, and a strong sense of local ownership ensured a steady stream of giving and expansion. One day a man walked into the office and wrote a cheque for £80,000 to buy an adjoining property for move-on accommodation.  It was a focus for volunteering.  Harvest Festival produce from churches and schools sometimes overwhelmed the storeroom. There were open days and the wider community began to understand the nature of homelessness breaking down some of the prejudice experienced by rough sleepers. The public’s engagement with the project was consistent enough for a Friends of Factory Row to be set up raising money for activities and gifts for residents for Christmas and birthdays.

Then came Government money , primarily through the Supporting People programme. Now the hostel could provide outreach services to prevent homelessness and support even the most chaotic. Numbers of rough sleepers on the streets of Torbay began to fall.

In 2008, the Langley House Trust, working with the Homes and Community Agency, oversaw a complete re-build of the hostel site creating the Leonard Stocks Centre with 24 en suite rooms where women could be accommodated as well.  A local community working with a national charity and a Government agency had created a flagship hostel in a resort where a few years earlier there had just been a few beds pushed together in an old mortuary.

Then came austerity. At first managers were salami slicing budgets leading to minor cuts in staffing but then came cleaver blows. This year Torbay Council was asked to cut £10m from its budget and next year a further £14million of savings are needed. The council ‘s financial position has not been helped by the Conservative Mayor’s reluctance to increase council tax.

Torbay is currently going through over 80 per cent cuts to its Supporting People budget. Most services have already closed and only a vocal campaign last winter won the homeless hostel a reprieve. Now the axe hovers again and hostel supporters are fighting what feels like a last ditch battle.

Unless a fundraising appeal for £95,000 is successful, and the council is prepared to match fund the community’s giving, the hostel will close in March, earlier if staff can’t be persuaded to stay.

But the loss is greater than just 24 beds for rough sleepers, it is the breaking of 25 years of church, community and council partnership, the kind of local project which Prime Minister David Cameron’s Big Society has championed. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of charity giving has been invested. Volunteer time has supplemented paid staff. Torbay has a greater understanding of homelessness and less hostile to rough sleepers because of ties between the neighbourhood and the hostel. The project is no monument to council or Government agencies eager to meet statutory obligations but a town’s own, unique response to a crisis on its streets in the 1980s.

That is why its imminent loss is so sorely felt in Torbay among those who seek social justice close to home.

As Torbay is not the only council going through deep cuts, this situation must be repeated across the country. How many other drop-in centres, night shelters, outreach projects for rough sleepers etc. are being blown away as valuable core funding is lost in the gale of austerity?

The Big Lottery seems unwilling or unable to fill the gap. In the South West there is a reluctance to fund services threatened by a withdrawal of council funding. So does this mean that vital projects collapse while the Big Lottery funds novel, headline grabbing ones?

So hostel supporters are out shaking the collection boxes.  Some people are giving out of genuine concern for South Devon’s rough sleepers, with the imagination to see that “there but by the grace of God go I”. Others give because they don’t want tourist areas disfigured by the destitute. That argument plays well Torbay’s elected Mayor, Conservative Gordon Oliver who has made shoring up the struggling tourist industry his number one priority. He has yet to decide whether to match fund community giving to keep the hostel open.

With its low wages and high unemployment, Torbay has been described as Devon’s inner city and if its hostel closes its social dysfunction will deepen. We brace ourselves for a death on the street.”

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, State Collusion, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Empowering Women Rough Sleepers: Conference at the EU Parliament, Brussels.

The final conference for our Empowering Women Rough Sleepers research study will be held on Thursday 9th October at the European Parliament in Brussels, with a Policy Round Table on Friday 10th. Check out our websites for further details.
http://womenroughsleepers2.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=141%3Afinal-conference&catid=21%3Anews&Itemid=215

http://www.womenroughsleepers2/eu

 

 

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Do Your Services Measure up for Women who Sleep Rough?

I will be talking about my Women Rough Sleepers research for Homeless Link in Bristol on Tuesday 30th September 2014
http://www.homeless.org.uk/do-your-services-measure-up-for-women-who-sleep-rough

A Homeless Transition Fund event to share learning from the European Women’s Rough Sleepers Project and Practitioners Experiences in the UK

Free event | 30 September | Bristol | 10:30 – 4:30

More about the day:

  • Learn from the European Women Rough Sleepers Project and Brighter Futures Women’s Projects
  • Get the opportunity to network with other HTF grantee organisations
  • Attend a workshop based on the application of principles to service settings

Who is this event for?

This event is for past and present Homelessness Transition Fund Grantees and their partner organisations wanting to network and improve their knowledge of the issues faced by women who sleep rough, and the services that can best support them.

Venue
Trinity Centre
Trinity Rd
Bristol
Avon
BS2 0NW

For enquiries, or to book your free place, please contact:
Stephanie Edwards, Grants Administrator
020 7840 4457
Stephanie.Edwards@homelesslink.org.uk

 

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Concluding Children Rough Sleepers Project Conference in Brussels to Coincide with World Human Rights Day

 

 

2014-09-21-CRSpic.jpg

‘States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.’

‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’, UN General Assembly Resolution 44/25 of 20 Nov. 1989

Coinciding with this year’s World Human Rights Day on December 10, the final Children Rough Sleepers conference in Brussels will present some of the findings of its two-year study on the rising number across Europe of young people with no fixed abode. Financed by the EU’s Daphne Programme, the research project piloted by Criminal Justice Professor Kate Moss of the University of Wolverhampton enjoys the parliamentary support of MEP Cécile Kyenge, who is set to commence conference proceedings. The event concludes a busy agenda over past months of related meetings, workshops, conferences and round table discussions hosted and attended by policy experts, academics and professionals who work in the field within each of the ten participating partner countries.

As testified by the title of their study ‘A Comparative Report on Youth Homelessness and Social Exclusion in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK’, hitherto the most comprehensive publication on child homelessness in Europe by Joan Smith et al, the research remains nonetheless limited in scope and is already dated (2009). Ensuing developments in the phenomenon of rough sleeping among minors have since necessitated a more contemporary overview of its range Europewide in numeric terms, especially in view of the current economic crisis and considering predictable social ramifications resulting from welfare budget cuts across Europe. Reliable, updated data thus ‘provokes’ existing services, policies and prevention protocols to keep actively abreast of associated challenges by optimizing ongoing operations as well as by examining new ways of generating winning intervention synergies via the adoption of concerted strategies.

Respecting research on children rough sleepers, or CRS, the target population incorporates a plethora of sub categories. Each represented to varying degrees are unaccompanied foreign minors (including young migrants), annually released figures of children reported missing, youth who have fled domestic poverty, violence or sexual abuse as well as those who have been evicted from home by parents or who come from families with a history of alcohol or substance abuse. Still others have been abandoned or have chosen to leave child protection centres or alternative forms of institutional or foster care.

Understanding rough sleeping among children has necessarily meant taking a close look at how such young people pass their nomadic urban lives, which can oscillate from doorways, park benches and railway platforms to ‘sofa surfing’ among friends and acquaintances as and when the opportunity arises. Many of them become victims and perpetrators of crime and violence and are easy targets of sexual abuse and exploitation, being also especially vulnerable to predatory adults, gangs and prostitution rings among other dangers.

Yet arriving at an accurate head count of homeless minors brings challenges of its own. Just the difficulties in calculating how many stateless children there are in the UK alone -where their numbers are estimated to be in the region of 120.000- render any sound tally of their presence among the homeless population to be no less satisfactory. These are minors who bear no documentation attesting to their legal status for various reasons which may include running away from guardians who neglected to apply on their behalf for a national insurance number.

Though collaboration by the ten-strong consortium -representing as many member states- spanned just 37% of the EU’s territory at project launch, the team’s studies soon began to sound the alarm bells.

A few points of concern raised by some of the partner countries follow here :

The consortium’s British member reported that circa 140.000 children go missing in the UK each year. Of these, around 70.000 live in homeless households. In Spain, where researchers gauge that there are more minors in protection centres than in any other EU country, 2 million children are thought to be living in poverty. Of these, approximately 33.000 remain dependent upon the state and of the 14.000 children currently living in shelters, 10.000 are under the age of 6. As for Portugal, welfare benefit cuts between 2009 and 2012 resulted in half a million families losing child state allowances, with beneficiaries reduced from 1.8 million in 2009 to 1.3 million in 2012.

From the outset the team’s research always privileged the grounded theory method, which forms hypotheses touching appropriate prevention mechanisms only after attentive sifting, selection and editing of this latest data on rough sleeping minors has taken due consideration of aspects peculiar to different national contexts, i.e. upon conclusion of the study. To this end, the team recruited the input and participation of the full panorama of stakeholders operative in the field of minor homelessness, from NGOs to social welfare services and child protection centres as well as from the police and correctional services. Consultation with professionals, academics and key political figures also played a pivotal role, as did interviews conducted with sample groups of the target population itself.

Finally, treating of prevention too, grounded theory was preferred as a means of identifying any existing strategies found to be already working effectively – this also to favour informed and updated policy and intervention recommendations at European level and consequently to ensure an enduring project legacy in concrete application as well as on paper.

For more information on the Children Rough Sleepers Project, visithttp://www.childrenroughsleepers.tk/

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Save the Date: The Voice of Women Rough Sleepers in Brussels – 09.10.2014

Save the Date: The Voice of Women Rough Sleepers in Brussels – 09.10.2014

Re-elected Slovenian Member of European Parliament (MEP) Tanja Fajon, who is also a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament, will be the MEP`s leading voice at the Final Conference of Women Rough Sleepers Project in the European Parliament which will be held on 9th October 2014. Her support offers WRS II project the visibility and a wider target group such as European policy makers and institutions and other European networks, working on the improvement of the homelessness problematic in Europe. The WRS II conference in the European Parliament which will be complemented with a round table, will ensure that even after the end of the project there will be a voice of homeless women who will present their rights on European level.

Follow us as more information on the conference is coming soon at https://www.womenroughsleepers2.eu

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Children Rough Sleepers July Newsletter

In our July newsletter, the CRS consortium’s lead partner takes us through the research methodology the project is following in studying the phenomenon of rough sleeping children in Europe. Then as head of our study team, Professor Kate Moss of theUniversity of Wolverhampton’s Criminal Justice Department goes on to offer us a brief overview of what the project’s findings have hitherto yielded, country by country.
CHILDREN ROUGH SLEEPERS IN EUROPE : A RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
A paper given at the British Society of Criminology Conference, University of Liverpool, 10 July 2014. Submitted by Professor Kate Moss and Paramjit Singh, University of Wolverhampton, UK.Click here to read more

CHILDREN ROUGH SLEEPERS IN THE EU
A paper given at the University of Manchester Symposium of the Street, 6 June 2014. Contributor : Professor Kate Moss, Criminal Justice Dept., University of Wolverhampton, UK.Click here to read more

Check out the article and accompanying video coverage of the 19 June Social Parenting workshop hosted in the Netherlands by International Child Development Initiatives of Leiden : http://www.kinderrechtenhuis.nl/p/19/259/terugblik-social-parenting
For news about upcoming events, visit our website and social networks
Twitter
Twitter
LinkedIn
LinkedIn
Website
Website
Email
Email

Save the Date : Upcoming Events

Date: 12 – 14 November, 2014
Where: Puebla, Mexico
Title: 4th Internation Conference on Infancy and Adolescence
Website: http://www.vicongresomundialdeinfancia.org

Date: 18 November, 2014
Where: Netherlands
Title: CRS national conference hosted by International Child Development Initiatives, Leiden
Enquiries: mathijs@icdi.nlDate: 25 November, 2014
Where: 86 Fetter Lane, London, United Kingdom
Title: Tackling Child Exploitation Conference
Organizer: Capita Conferences
Website: http://www.capitaconferences.co.uk

Past Events

Date: 7 – 9 July, 2014
Where: Sheraton Hotel, Viale Del Pattinaggio, 100, Rome,Italy
Title: 22nd European Social Services Conference
Organizer: Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Website: http://www.esn-conference.org/home

Date: 9 – 12 July, 2014
Where: University of Liverpool, UK
Title: British Society of Criminology Conference
Organizer: Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool, UK
Website: https://www.liv.ac.uk/law-and-social-justice/conferences/bsc/

Date: 6 June, 2014
Where: University of Manchester, UK
Title: Symposium of the Street
Organizer: University of Manchester, UK
Website: http://uomsymposiumofthestreet.wordpress.com/

Date: 21 May, 2014
Where: Church of Valcica, Iasi County, Romania
Title: Educational programme targeting community groups and children
Description: Hosted and organized by Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning

Date: 29 May, 2014
Where: ”Mihail Kogalniceanu” High School, Miroslava, Iasi County, Romania
Title: Educational programme targeting community groups and children
Description: Hosted and organized by Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning

Date: 30 May, 2014
Where: ”V.M Craiu” High School, Belcesti, Iasi County, Romania
Title: Educational programme targeting community groups and children
Description: Hosted and organized by Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning

Date: 06 June, 2014
Where: ”Mihail Kogalniceanu” High School, Miroslava, Iasi County, Romania
Title: Educational programme targeting community groups and children
Description: Hosted and organized by Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning

Date: 20 June, 2014
Where: Town Hall of Ciocanesti, Suceava County, Romania
Title: Educational programme targeting community groups and children
Description: Hosted and organized by Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning

Date: 20 June, 2014
Where: School of Panaci, Suceava County, Romania
Title: Educational programme targeting community groups and children
Description: Hosted and organized by Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning

Date: 2 June 2014
Where: Escuela de Trabajo Social, UCLM, Cuenca, Spain
Title: CRS Workshop hosted by Fundación Simetrías in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Castilla la Mancha
Description: Presentation of research on children rough sleepers in Spain
Enquiries: projects@simetrias.es

Date: 10 & 11 June 2014
Where: Toledo, Spain
Title: hosted by Fundación Simetrías
Description: Transnational CRS consortium meeting
Enquiries: children.rough.sleep@gmail.com

Date: 16 June 2014
Where: Fundación Simetrías, Toledo, Spain
Title: CRS Workshop hosted by Fundación Simetrías in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Castilla la Mancha
Description: Presentation of research on children rough sleepers in Spain
Enquiries: projects@simetrias.es

Date: 19 June 2014
Where: Kinderrechtenhuis, Hooglandse Kerkgracht 17, Leiden
Title: ’Social Parenting’, hosted by International Child Development Initiatives, Leiden
Description: CRS Workshop
Enquiries: mathijs@icdi.nl

Date: 23 June 2014
Where: Fundación Simetrías, Toledo, Spain
Title: CRS Workshop hosted by Fundación Simetrías
Description: Presentation of research on children rough sleepers in Spain
Enquiries: projects@simetrias.es

Partners:

UK: University of Wolverhampton
ITALY: Agreenment Association
UK: CCRESS Ltd
CZECH REPUBLIC: Komunikujeme o.s.
HUNGARY: Regional Social Welfare Resource Center Budapest
NETHERLANDS: International Child Development Initiatives
POLAND: Centre for Education and Enterprise Support
PORTUGAL: Conversas de Rua
ROMANIA: Romanian Society for Lifelong Learning
SLOVENIA: EUROCOOP
SPAIN: Fundación Simetrías Internacional

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, State Collusion, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Matthews, R (2014) Realist Criminology: Palgrave

img30th.png
 
www.rogermatthrews.net
Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, State Collusion, Torture, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

CHAIN Borough and Street to Home Reports from St Mungo’s Broadway

The latest CHAIN borough and Street to Home reports are now available to download. You can access the reports from our website here:

www.broadwaylondon.org/CHAIN/Reports.html

I hope you will find the reports useful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Ian Canadine
CHAIN Information Manager
St Mungo’s Broadway
Email: ian.canadine@mungosbroadway.org.uk
Tel: 020 7710 0682
CHAIN Helpdesk: 020 7710 0562

15 Half Moon Court, Bartholomew Close, London, EC1A 7HF

Posted in WRS Updates | Leave a comment

The Criminalisation of Poverty and Homelessness in Hungary.

The following is an excerpt from the literature review within our European Commission funded Women Rough Sleepers research project, which was prepared by our Hungarian partners for the final report. It outlines the ongoing tragic development of the criminalisation of poverty and homelessness in Hungary.

” In December 2010, the clearing of Budapest underground passages began under the supervision of Mayor István Tarlós. Extra funds that had been promised as part of the program never reach homeless care institutions. Also in December 2010, Parliament adopted an amendment to the law on constructions, which allows for penalties for the improper use of public spaces as a petty offence and searching through garbage is banned in the 8th district. In April 2011, the General Assembly of Budapest adopted a decree pronouncing habitation in public spaces a petty offence. The very same decree makes street music subject to permission and a payable fee. In May 2011, Mayor Máté Kocsis called for a district referendum to justify his penalising policies against homeless people in the 8th district. Although the results are invalid due to low participation, the mayor fails to revoke the ban on rummaging through garbage claiming that it is supported by 80% of the voters and in August 2011, Mayor István Tarlós talks about “homeless crime.”

In October 2011, in line with a newly passed decree by Józsefváros, begging and the use of public spaces as habitual residence were also prohibited. Within a comprehensive “law-and-order” campaign hundreds of homeless people were subjected to short-term arrest. In November 2011, Parliament passed the amendment of the Penal Code with effect from 1 December, initiated by FIDESZ MPs, which made it a criminal offence to reside habitually in public spaces or to store belongings there. Repeat offenders risk imprisonment for up to 60 days or a fine of up to 150 thousand HUF (approx. 700 USD).

In December 2011, Parliament adopted the new Penal Code, which allowed local governments across the country to punish habitual residence in public spaces and define further antisocial, forbidden behaviours. The new legislation took effect on 15 April 2012 and in May 2012, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights applied to the Constitutional Court requesting the repeal of the legislation criminalising homelessness. In November 2012, the Constitutional Court ruled that penalising homelessness is unconstitutional and annulled the aforementioned act. The Constitutional Court deemed homelessness a social issue, which should not be addressed through law enforcement. By a complementary decree of the court, all penalty fees have to be paid back to those who had been fined under the law.

In January 2013 however, barriers appeared with “construction work” and “slippery surface” signs in several underground passages of the capital, Budapest. Their purpose, however, is clearly not to ensure public safety, but to keep homeless people away. In March 2013, Parliament adopted the 4th amendment of the Fundamental Law, which permits Parliament or local governments to restrict the use of public spaces for habitation in order to preserve public order, public safety, public health and cultural values. By April 2013, a few days after the adoption of the 4th amendment, the Minister of Interior submits another amendment to the Penal Code, which resumes the prohibition of habitual residence in public spaces, and, also prohibits the building of shacks in public spaces. In the same month, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights applies to the Constitutional Court for a review of the Fundamental Law, which does not find any formal inadequacies. Due to the 4th amendment, the Court is not allowed to examine the contents of the new constitution.

Key international organisations have criticised the 4th amendment, including its articles permitting the penalisation of homelessness, while the Venice Convention and the European Parliament strongly disapprove of the Hungarian government’s actions in their reports. In July 2013, Rákosmente is the first district in the capital acting upon the measures of the Fundamental Law forbidding habitation in public space as well as picking through garbage on residential waste days and in recycling bins.

Now that Hungary’s constitution allows for the criminalisation of the homeless, it was only a matter of time before a local government banned them from public areas. In the summer of 2013, a district in Budapest did just that, issuing a decree prohibiting “residential habitation” (living in public places), banning “dumpster-diving,” and taking unwanted items left on the streets for disposal by the authorities. Offenders face fines of up to 150,000 Hungarian forints (US$655), community service or even jail sentences for repeated violations. In other words, homeless people with nowhere else to go are now targeted as criminals for being poor.

The local decree is the latest in a campaign against homeless people in Hungary which began in 2010, including a national law criminalising homelessness adopted in April 2012. In November 2012, the constitutional court struck down the law on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right to human dignity. But rather than respect the ruling, the government used its supermajority in parliament in March to amend the constitution to include a provision enabling the criminalisation of homelessness. The sidestepping of its own constitutional court speaks volumes of the Hungarian government’s contempt for the rule of law and its handling of social issues.

As a further blow, the Lord Mayor of the city of Budapest in late August 2013 announced that the city was planning a proposal to ban homeless people from public areas all over the city. That means that areas in any of the 22 districts of Budapest owned by the city will literally be off-limits for homeless people. Instead of taking their human rights obligations seriously by protecting the rights of vulnerable people without housing, the authorities are now putting Budapest’s approximately 8,000 homeless at serious risk of becoming criminals.

True to their word, the Hungarian government has moved to turn the homeless into criminals. With 245 votes in favour, and only 45 against, the government used its supermajority in parliament yesterday to adopt a law enabling local authorities to make it a criminal offence for the homeless to live in public spaces and ‘dumpster dive.’ Municipalities across the country now have a green light to impose fines, community service, and even jail time (if convicted twice within six months) on the homeless. And it’s straight to jail for those convicted of erecting makeshift shelters. This is even worse than the local decree issued by a Budapest district this summer that stipulates jail time for failing to pay fines; this national law allows local governments to throw people in jail just for being homeless.

The Constitutional Court had struck down, in November 2012, a prior law criminalising homelessness on the grounds that it violated the right to human dignity. Rather than respecting the court’s decision, the government, through its parliament supermajority, responded by including a provision in the Constitution in March enabling the criminalisation of homelessness, a move that showed contempt for the rule of law. Homeless people were among the hundreds who gathered outside parliament while it was busy passing this terrible law. The homeless people I spoke to wondered why the government was kicking people who are already on the ground. They insisted they didn’t want free housing as everybody seems to think, just the same chances as everyone else to be productive and contribute to society.

Hungarian authorities should tackle homelessness through social policy, not policing. Today, the rights of 30,000 homeless people in the country are at even greater risk and one of the contributing factors t this is the housing crisis. According to Hegedüs (2011: p.24)

The biggest challenge for the makers of housing policy in transitional countries is to provide institutional assistance to those social groups who have become vulnerable due to structural changes in the economy, including the privatisation of housing and the commoditisation of public services.

Since transition, Hungarian housing policy has focused on home ownership, with little attention to the social sector with the exception of privatising the stock to reduce its capacity further at a time of growing need. The private rented sector is often the only option for housing for vulnerable populations, yet this sector is poorly prepared to respond to the needs of homeless people. Landlords can be reluctant to accommodate people with support needs. This study has also shown very starkly how housing allowances, and other benefits, are inadequate in assisting people to sustain housing in Hungary without additional special assistance from homelessness funds. Arguably, if the state does not have enough capacity to offer social housing to all who need it, and the construction of social housing units is not feasible, sustainable housing benefits should be made available for all those with a low income who need to be housed through the private rental market. Housing benefits should cover (a share of) both rent and utilities, and should last as long as needed, and not just for a limited amount of time..” (Fehér & Balogi, 2013)

In today’s Hungary, poverty remains one of the most pressing social issues. The number of people living under the subsistence minimum is estimated to be 3.7 million, or nearly 40 percent of the population according to figures from the Központi Statisztikai Hivatal, (2011, p. 2).

Millions of people are also affected by housing poverty. The number of people living in substandard and/or extremely overcrowded conditions is 1.5 million. In 2012 413 000 households had arrears in utilities beyond 3 months (Hegedüs & Horváth, 2013, p. 47) and tens of thousands have been in danger of eviction because of mortgage default. In 2011, overall household debt in Hungary was the sixth largest in the European Union (Habitat for Humanity Magyarország, 2012, p.3). In addition, 300 000 people live in segregated communities where poverty and unemployment are highly concentrated, and 50 percent of Roma citizens live in racially segregated areas with inferior infrastructure (Habitat for Humanity Magyarország, 2012, p.22). One million people cannot heat their homes properly and the occurrence of cold-related deaths is ten times higher than in other developed countries (Koltai, 2012). 

There is a widespread view that  homelessness is not a particularly serious problem. This view continues to prevail and to affect services throughout the EU countries that we have studied in this research which focus specifically on women’s homelessness and is funded by the Daphne III programme of the EU. This research is crucial because rough sleeping is a major issue across European countries and is especially problematic within the current economic climate. Many of the current issues that prevail in relation to this social problem have common themes across Europe and the magnitude of this problem is compelling. We hope that this research will help to raise awareness of this social problem and will encourage policy makers across the EU to take these issues more seriously.

You can find out more about this project and our other projects at the following web sites:

http://www.womenroughsleepers2.eu/

http://www.childrenroughsleepers.tk/

References:

Fehér, B. and Balogi, A. (2013) From the Forest to Housing: Challenges Faced by Former Rough Sleepers in the Private Rental Market in Hungary.

József Hegedüs: Social Safety Nets, the Informal Economy and Housing Poverty – Experiences in Transitional Countries (2011, p.24 FAENTSA publication)

J. Hegedüs – V. Horváth – E. Somogyi: Introducing Social Rental Agencies in Hungary – an innovative housing programm (2013)

Hegedüs-Horváth, 2013: Évesjelentés a lakhatásiszegénységről (Annual Report on Housing Poverty), in Hungarian; Budapest, Habitat for Humanity Hungary. http://www.mri.hu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/jelentes_veglszoveg_web.pdf

Habitat for Humanity Magyarország (2012) Updated Civil Society Monitoring Report on the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies and Decade Action Plan in 2012 and 2013 in HUNGARY (http://www.habitat.hu/files/HU_updated_civil_society_monitoring_report.pdf )

Bori Simonovits, Júlia Koltai (2011a): Employers’ employee-selection practices in the light of discrimination. Research report, Equal Treatment Authority, at: http://www.egyenlobanasmod.hu/tamop/data/2.2_kivalgyak_majus18.pdf

Posted in Children Rough Sleepers, Homelessness, Law, State Collusion, Women Rough Sleepers, WRS Updates | Leave a comment

Review of Moss, K (2011) Balancing Liberty and Security: Human Rights, Human Wrongs

A Review of Balancing Liberty and Security: Human Rights, Human Wrongs K. Moss. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (2011) 251pp. £52.00hb ISBN 978-0-230-23029-3

The Howard Journal Vol 53 No 3. July 2014 ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 314–322 315 © 2014 The Howard League and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

In this book, Kate Moss draws attention (as few others have done) to the pandemic proportions of the onslaught of the government of the United Kingdom on the civil liberties and the rule of law. The author deploys insights from law and criminology to contend that while government’s concern about public safety is a legitimate one, there is serious cause for worry about holding the balance between human rights and security.

Through the interrogation of various examples, Moss argues that there is a very strong case to be made that the current approach is in violation of the entire ethos of a modern, liberal, democratic polity. A number of important revelations, some noted in the book, others, subsequent to its publication, vindicate the author’s concerns about the increasingly-enlarged powers of the State and how they seriously encroach on civil liberties. A major example is the recent revelation that the United States has not only been listening in to the private conversations of millions of ordinary citizens in the UK, for instance, but also those of various European Union leaders. This level of surveillance is typical of so-called ‘US exceptionalism,’ advanced in justification of its heightened and gross disregard for human rights in a unipolar superpower post-9/11 world. However, no thanks to Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ government (and his successors) there is a proliferation of surveillance mechanisms, dataveillance (in the author’s words) rolled out to keep us safe. Thus, the exceptionalism characteristic of the United States has become the norm in the UK, too.

Moss warns against being taken in by positive sides of advancements in technology to the neglect of the institutionalisation of ‘a surveillance society’ (p.23) with its grave implications for civil rights. The advancement in technology has been deployed in a way that depletes accountability for immense intrusion of State security agencies into our everyday lives. Worse, still, we have seen the extension of similar powers to private bodies, all on the justification of risks to which the government seeks to cater in order to secure public safety. This is despite the fact that, as with the example of the UK government’s intervention in Iraq, such risks are not only highly unlikely to materialise, but, indeed, typically fictitious.

Despite the clear legal and political inadequacies of the persisting dataveillance culture, there has been little attention by academics to debating or challenging myriad schemes set up for the extensive encroachments to our rights. As the author points out, this amounts to an abdication of responsibility. Balancing Liberty and Security finds an important place in (the still few) works that have expressed concern about the silence of academics on the abuse of State power. This forthright evaluation of the risk society raises an articulate voice over externally or self-imposed silence of the academy on insidious deployment of State power ostensibly for public good. It is an accessible and welcome critical contribution to the discourse on civil rights and the monstrosity that is increasingly becoming the main face of State power even in the West with its claims on liberal democracy, rule of law and human rights. It is a must read for students and researchers of human rights, security studies and criminology and politics.

The Howard Journal Vol 53 No 3. July 2014 ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 314–322 315 © 2014 The Howard League and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

HAKEEM O. YUSUF

Centre for Law, Crime and Justice,

School of Law,

University of Strathclyde,

Glasgow.

Posted in WRS Updates | Leave a comment