The NPR (National Public Radio) website reports today (April 7, 2012) that Hungary's new anti-vagrancy laws -- the toughest in all of Europe -- now mean that homeless people sleeping on the street can face police fines or even jail time.
Advocacy and human-rights groups are alarmed by the new efforts to criminalize homelessness, where the ranks of the needy have increased during Hungary's dire financial crisis.
Debt, joblessness, and poverty are on the rise. The country's bonds have been downgraded to "junk" status, and the nation's currency -- the forint -- has dropped sharply against the euro.
Advocates for the poor in Hungary estimate that there are more than 10,000 homeless on the streets and in the shelters in Budapest -- the capital of Hungary -- and some 20,000 more across the rest of the nation.