The homeless and people living in precarious conditions have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many who did not face challenges before the pandemic also found themselves in distress. Rising unemployment led to an accumulation of unpaid rental and mortgage bills, and other forms of debt, pushing many to the brink of losing their homes.
Pandemic legal aid
2nd Prize 2021
Region: Budapest, Pest
Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy
Fields of action: Legal protection, Indebtedness, Homelessness
Project owner: Streetlawyer Association
Responsible person: Dorottya Atol
We have provided free legal aid in a public square for those in need for 11 years. During the pandemic, we adapted our programme to provide our service remotely as Pandemic legal aid (“Járvány-jogsegély”). Volunteer lawyers provide legal aid via email and telephone. We also draft legal submissions and represent our clients in court.
We provide free legal aid to people in poverty on housing and social rights, as well as fight discrimination. We involve our clients in the legal process as much as possible. We also prepared easy-to-understand guidelines clarifying the fast-changing regulatory legal framework to empower our clients.
Despite the rising number of those in need, we intervened in 1,100 cases in 2020 and 2021. We helped our clients prevent further debt or losing their homes. We also won court cases to recover unlawfully withdrawn or ungranted social support.
In addition to homeless people, our programme helps low-income households struggling with debt and housing crisis. Through remote legal aid and online resources, we can provide support beyond Budapest. Family aid coordinators and shelters in the countryside can refer cases to us for assistance.
The Streetlawyers Association extended their services during the pandemic from providing legal aid to the homeless in public squares to remote online and phone outreach. The programme also works with social workers and social institutions for the homeless. Since the start of the pandemic, the group of people, who at risk of losing their home and seeking out for legal help is growing. This programme demonstrates an impressive resilience rooted in social innovation. Pandemic legal aid persists in the face of the pandemic as professional, politically engaged, and unique initiative in Hungary.