AHA Budapest – Affordable Housing for All

Introducing AHA, a European Union-funded programme launched in Budapest in spring 2024. The programme’s function is complex: it offers an integrated solution to the capital’s housing problems.

Elérhető lakhatás mindenkinek!


The housing crisis in Budapest is an increasingly serious problem for city dwellers. Budapest currently has the highest housing costs in relation to wages of any capital city in the European Union. High rents and low wages make modern, decent, energy-efficient housing unaffordable for many. In addition, rent prices have risen sharply across the country and even Europe, making housing costs a serious financial problem for an increasing number of people.

The question is how to address this situation and make decent housing more affordable for a wide range of people. Tackling the housing crisis will be a key task for the future, as the Municipality of Budapest considers affordable and accessible housing to be a fundamental human right.

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The aim of the AHA project is to provide quality social rental housing to people experiencing housing poverty. One of its tasks is to develop a digital early warning system to prevent further residents from falling into difficult situations (e.g. non-payment of bills) and to help avoid eviction, which can be a direct route to homelessness. Another of its tasks is to set up a housing office, where social workers will help with housing and energy efficiency problems. It will also develop innovative housing schemes that will both expand the supply of social rented housing and help energy-poor homeowners reduce their maintenance costs. And in AHA’s demonstration project (Demo Hub), a disused school is being converted into modern housing and 26 families living in difficult circumstances are being provided with their own homes. The families will be supported by social workers to replace their previous housing problems with a new, dignified and predictable life.

As there are not only architectural, but also social, technical and energy efficiency sub-problems, the AHA works through a consortium of eight organisations, including an architectural office, a municipality, an IT company, a research consultancy and NGOs.


Housing in Budapest is a problem for many people, including single parents, pensioners, large families, unemployed people, people on low incomes or with diabilities and minorities. The AHA’s model project provides real and valuable help – new, modern, decent and energy-efficient homes – to people who cannot afford decent housing on their own.

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In the former school building converted into social rented housing (DemoHub), the future residents and immediate neighbours will be involved from the beginning. To this end, we launched the AHA project with a “placemaking” event, where the people in the neighbourhood could understand the mission of the programme and be reassured: it will not be a plague in their neighbourhood, but a good and humane initiative.

We opened the building as a Demo Hub to the press and the public as a community planning site, communicating that future tenants can actively participate in the renovation steps, their needs and opinions are important in the design of the apartments.


In Hungarian society, there is a desirable connotation of home ownership, and it is common to think of socially rented housing as bad, poor, temporary. Classical market rentals are not affordable for many, while modern shared rentals and other forms of housing tested in other countries are typically little known.

An important sub-goal is to communicate that there is no equivalence between social rented housing and shelter and that such schemes can provide good answers to homelessness and housing poverty in the future.

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The economic partner organising the financial sustainability of the AHA and the allocation of resources.

The project’s energy advisory experts, who will look for answers to energy poverty in new housing forms, will run the energy efficiency and energy saving advisory service of the Housing Office and will communicate the energy solutions and efficient operation of the Demo Hub to prospective tenants.

The New Bauhaus approach will be used to assess the needs of the population, collect their ideas and insights and translate them into architectural language.

They are involved in the city-wide development of the Early Warning System and the introduction of experimental housing.

Nart architects and the MOKEMBÉ architectural collective were responsible for the reuse of the unused school building in Újpest, the architectural design of the Demo Hub and the creation of the communicable visual designs.

Pop Code is our partner in the design, development and operation of the digital site of the Early Warning System.

The association deals with housing cooperation, social, human support and legal background.

The capital’s tourism and culture agency is responsible for communicating the programme. The complex project is communicated in a clear and transparent way here and on our social media platform, so that other districts, cities and even countries can use it as a model for their own housing projects.

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The programme is part of the international New European Bauhaus initiative, which is based on the criteria of inclusiveness, aesthetics and sustainability. It is a movement that uses a variety of tools to reach as many Europeans and institutions as possible: anyone can share their ideas for community design, and the programme’s subsequent phases will be shaped by the collective results of the first phase, giving us more opportunities to think about the future of our cities and our environment.

The overall AHA project will receive €5 million, or around two billion forints, in funding from the European Urban Initiative (EUI), of which around half will be spent on the Demo Hub building in Újpest, while the other half will be spent on the other AHA objectives.

It can be said that the AHA programme is a laboratory for the Housing Agency in Budapest: it might be too early or risky for the Housing Agency to try out certain ideas, but this project is being funded by the EU precisely because of the bold, innovative ideas it is proposing. The project also includes setting up an office to provide solutions to support people in housing crisis.

The AHA’s pilot project (Demo Hub) is a former vocational school for the leather processing industry in one of the worst-maintained buildings in the Baross Street area of Újpest. Built in the seventies, the school has been vacant since 2007, when its owner, the Municipality of Budapest, advertised it for sale or rent for a long time, during which time the abandoned building has deteriorated.

Thanks to the work of the consortium partners, the old school will be transformed into a new, modern, low-energy and, last but not least, attractive residential building, which will be ready to house twenty-six families living in difficult circumstances in 2026. This demonstration site in Újpest will serve as an example for the redevelopment of 15 other disused public buildings owned by the capital.

Despite its abandonment, the building has a good potential: it is not just a place for one type of lifestyle or family type. There will be garçons, two-bedroom apartments, accessible homes and two apartments larger than 100 square metres for large families. The basic structure of the building will remain basically unchanged, with the long corridors in front of the former classrooms, the original lobby and the large hall, which will be used as a community space.

A concept plan for the renovation was approved by the City of Budapest in May, the design will be completed by November and an open EU public tender will be launched. If all goes according to plan, a winner will be announced next May, and from then on the renovation will take more than a year, with the first families moving in during the summer or autumn of 2026.


1 November 2024
AHA’s early warning system is launched.

1 January 2025
The AHA Housing (Assistance) Office opens with trained social workers.

1 April 2026
The first tenants move into the renovated building.

1 January 2027
The financial model for the renovated building, the Demo Hub, is published.

The EUI website provides a description of the project, basic information and updates in English.