counts 23 districts, Óbuda-Békásmegyer being the 3rd district of the Hungarian capital. It is located to the north-western fringe of the city, stretching along the right side of the river Danube. Óbuda-Békásmegyer has around 134,000 inhabitants in its almost 40 km2 area.

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The district itself can be characterized by various forms of buildings and inhabitants. Óbuda-Békásmegyer is the second largest populated and second largest district area among the other districts of Budapest. Due to its location, it connects the city centre to the agglomeration zone. At the same time, due to its natural endowments, it has a significant green area and abounds in natural attractions.

There is a wide range of both the inhabitants and the housing stock to be found in the district, including the wealthy and the poor, those socially advantaged and disadvantaged, as well as family homes with a higher comfort level and residential buildings with a lower level of comfort, built in the former century, in poorer quality.

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Total population: 134,105 (2021) [♂️: 61,349; ♀️: 72,756]

Energy poverty rate: 18,9% (2017). Source: EPOV

According to the Óbuda Family Counseling and Child Protection Center, the social, material, mental and physical condition of the population of the district has changed unfavorably in recent years. The size of the Roma population is significant in the target area.

Békásmegyer has the lowest level of education in the district, approx. 10% of those living here have up to 8 classes (district average: 5.7%) and 21.7% have received upper education (district average: 39.4%). The housing estate is characterized by the lowest income category, where the stock of residential buildings has also aged, the level of comfort is lower. The general social situation of the housing estate population is significantly worse than in the rest of the district, drug problems, wandering youth, and vandalism are most common in this part of the district.

The current situation of the city regarding energy poverty

  • According to the Óbuda Family Counseling and Child Protection Center, the payment of expenses related to housing and housing loans causes such difficulties for households to such an extent that, despite the overhead reduction, many two-earner families are already in arrears across the district, but especially in Békásmegyer. While in the past, depending on their monthly income and expenses, families paid their bills on a sliding basis and thus were able to settle more or less all their debts, now more and more often they can be sued or enforced. Service providers are suspending service for less and less amount of arrears and less delay time.
  • The local government provides support for arrears management, debt management and provides advice on installment payment in the district. There are several local projects and initiatives to tackle energy poverty.
  • The most vulnerable citizens are the Roma, elderly people who live on their own, single-parent families (especially single mothers). Women are significantly more affected.

Our vision of energy poverty

The Municipality is significantly committed to improving health, well-being and sustainability. Its primary goal is to improve health care, but it pays considerable attention to prevention and addressing social issues (such as domestic violence, addiction, vandalism, unemployment, poverty, especially housing poverty). A number of interventions have been identified that focus on improving the situation of disadvantaged people, and a number of proposals have been submitted that focus on the goals above.

Local initiatives that tackle energy poverty include:

a) Smart metering project: During the Intelligent Network Pilot Project, KOM Zrt. carried out the installation of smart natural gas meters and electricity meters on over 4000 sites in the district. The data collection takes place between 2019-2023. Half of the smart meters involve municipally owned housing, often rented on a social basis. The installation of smart meters and continuous monitoring of energy consumption would provide an opportunity for families in need to rationalize their energy use, however, due to the introduction of GDPR rules, utilities currently do not provide data to the Municipality.

b) Social urban rehabilitation in Békásmegyer: The aim of the project is to address in a complex way the socio-physical-economic problems that are concentrated in deprived or endangered neighborhoods in order to promote the social integration of those living in the area. The interventions are based on the strengthening of the residential function of the affected districts, the expansion and development of their existing functions, and the establishment of social, community and public space functions. Within the framework of the project, 45 flats will be modernized together with energy efficiency between 2021 and 2022, which is expected to significantly reduce housing maintenance costs, primarily energy costs.

c) Housing allowance: can be established in order to reduce the monthly costs of housing maintenance and to preserve housing.

d) Rent modification: If the tenant pays a municipal or market-based rent due to a decrease in household income that would create an extraordinary life situation before the next review of the rent rate, he may apply for a rent modification.

e) Regular arrears management support is available to households or individuals who accumulate debt through no fault of their own and whose debt to be managed does not exceed HUF 528000 (approx. 1473,86 EUR) and has entered into an installment agreement with the service provider to settle the debt and meets additional financial and housing size conditions.

f) A lump-sum arrears management allowance is available to a household or individual who accumulates debt through no fault of its own, and meets financial and housing size conditions.

Local projects to improve health condition:

  • Social urban rehabilitation in Békásmegyer: Tenants receive health screening and mental health care free of charge.
  • Egészséges Budapest Program (Healthy Budapest Program): Includes the development of the local health clinic, procurement of equipment, development of service quality.
  • The establishment of a children’s clinic is a very significant goal of the Municipality.

Activities to be implemented

The planned main interventions include conducting energy audits for each apartment, conducting health screening tests, and examining data on mental health, quality of life, and housing conditions through a questionnaire survey.

The energy audit makes it possible to map the energy situation of the participants by assessing the trends related to energy use and consumption and examining household appliances.

Smartwatches and smart sensors will be provided for the pilot sites. The data collected by the tools will be monitored on an ongoing basis and participants will be encouraged to develop more conscious behaviors through the use of the tools. Mentors undertake to provide measurement education for tenants.

Óbuda-Békásmegyer’s plans include the installation of smart meters for the purpose of measuring consumption (including natural gas, electricity, water, district heating).

Soft interventions include counseling, household consumer behavior optimization program, household management and a training for the optimization of energy consumption. In order to improve the energy situation and the health of the individual, energy efficiency counseling is needed, which includes issues related to maintaining the comfort and well-being of the household, as well as the issue of becoming a victim. Behavior formation also contributes to improving health and well-being.

In order to optimize utility costs, it may be necessary to review contracts and provide advice to tenants. In many cases, households are unaware of the type of contract, so this measure can be very useful. In addition, it is an important task to support the settlement of accounts, to settle the debts that arise, to provide legal and arrears management advice, and to implement account content education.