Energy poverty has become a priority issue in the European Union in recent years. This is due to the recognition that cross-cutting solutions across different fields of expertise are needed to mitigate the effects of both poverty and the climate crisis. Good quality housing and affordable energy should not remain the privilege of the more affluent in our societies.
At least two-thirds of the country’s housing stock of 4.4 million dwellings are substandard in terms of energy-efficiency. Poorer households typically live in low-quality, more energy-intensive housing and lack the financial means to improve these circumstances. Therefore, external support and assistance is needed to combat energy poverty.
It is necessary to review and analyse available statistics and policies; to understand the implications of this phenomenon at local and national level; and, last but not least, to gain insight into everyday issues from the perspective of those that are affected.
To deepen our knowledge about the issues at the local level, we are conducting case studies in two specific pilot areas. One of those is Kispest, a district in Budapest where you can find most types of real estate that are characteristic of the capital. The other one is Ág, a small “dead-end” village in Baranya County, for which an energy poverty strategy will be prepared. The gas network does not reach this settlement, and most of the inhabitants live below the poverty line.
In the framework of the project, which will continue until June 2020, further highlighted topics are the use of solid fuels and the identification of the groups which are the most vulnerable to energy poverty. In addition, we have established partnerships with a number of international and domestic actors that have significant experience and knowledge in the field of energy poverty.
The members of the consortium of five non-governmental organizations that are working on the “Elosztó” Project supported by the Civitates initiative are Habitat for Humanity Hungary, an NGO working to reduce housing poverty; the Hungarian Network of Eco-counselling Offices (Kötháló), which brings together organizations that provide environmental counselling to the public; the Hungarian Women’s Lobby (Női Érdek), which works for the advancement of women’s social and legal equality; the Non-profit Sector Analysis Association (NOSZA), which deals with the legal environment of the civil sector; and the Chance Lab Association, which operates the Hungarian Anti-Poverty Network, and works to reduce the number of people living in poverty, especially income poverty.