Starting today, sleeping on the streets, or basically street homelessness, is now a crime in #Hungary.

The new constitutional provision bans “habitual residence in a public space” and gives police the authority to remove sleepers from the street and snatch their belongings, according to @CNN.

So if y’all are wondering what happens to street sleepers, the constitution says homeless people who refuse to go to shelters will be forced to participate in public work programs, which they can avoid only by paying a fine. And if they are unable to pay those fines, homeless people will face time in prison.

While Hungary’s minister of state for social affairs and inclusion said the law “serves the interest of society as a whole,” critics say the law is part of Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s latest crackdown on some of the country’s most vulnerable people.

When the legislation was first passed in parliament in June, the United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, said that it raised “concerns of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against homeless people and persons without housing,” and also said the government “has treated those without homes as criminals.”

Farha added that there were insufficient emergency shelter spaces to accommodate Hungary’s homeless population, which is estimated at more than 10,000 people.

According to a recent survey by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, out of 10,206 homeless people surveyed in 2016, around a third were sleeping out on the street.

Some homeless people say they prefer to sleep on the street over a space in one of the country’s homeless shelters because of overcrowding, lack of quality services and accessibility issues.

Social workers say the new law effectively criminalizes homelessness and underscores their ability to establish trust with their clients and to assist with long-term solutions. Instead, they will be forced to implement the government’s policy of policing homeless people off the street.

Roommates, what do you think of Hungary’s new law? Let us know!

TSR STAFF: Christina C! @cdelafresh

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