The article “Social Housing in Post-crisis Hungary: A Reshaping of the Housing Regime under ‘Unorthodox’ Economic and Social Policy”, authored by MRI Managing Director József Hegedüs is available on the website of Critical Housing Analysis.
Hungary stepped on a very specific path two years into the Global Financial Crisis and the recession in its wake, on which it replaced ‘traditional’ austerity programs with ‘unorthodox’ economic policy. This policy paradigm shift affected the emerging social housing policy in two respects. First, the mainstream approach to social problems related to worsening housing affordability (due to increased loan repayments and other cost items together with decreasing incomes) provided strong support for the middle class. Second, intervention toward low income households remained minimal, and served only to pacify political tensions. This dual approach characterized the policy of the government, and resulting shift in the social structure did not necessarily follow the direction policy makers intended. Programs aimed at the middle class were poorly targeted, and often helped the upper middle class the most, who again did not behave the way policy makers expected (which would have been increased consumption to stimulate economic growth). Programs aimed at low income groups rendered the social structure more rigid, decreased the chance of low income persons to escape from extreme poverty, and cemented the opportunity discrepancies between the rich and the poor. The most recent housing policy measures suggest that the mistakes committed in the 2000s will likely be repeated, and there are not measures in place which could correct their course.