A Roma Settlement in Hungary

Vigtelep, in the city of Miskolc, was the first settlement I visited. About 80 families live there, most of them without reliable electricity or running water. The roads here are unpaved, and residents say that in winter they are impassable. “The ambulances won’t come up here,” they told me. Image by Janeen Interlandi. Hungary, 2014.

The residents of Vigtelep, in Miskolc, are facing mass evictions. Image by Janeen Interlandi. Hungary, 2014.

City leaders in Miskolc offered Gulyas Ferenc a small sum of money to leave and not return. “It’s a trap,” Ferenc told me. “You can’t buy a house or even rent long-term with this money.” Three times a month, he said, municipal leaders come to the settlements to inspect. “They are very aggressive. If you have a problem with your papers, they put you out in the street. People who don’t have family to go to end up in homeless shelter." Image by Janeen Interlandi. Hungary, 2014.

Across the grassy knoll, the houses are modern and well-apportioned. Image by Janeen Interlandi. Hungary, 2014.

House in Vigtelep “The only work we can get is 2-3 months public works contract. Our wives are heroes because they make due with nothing." Image by Janeen Interlandi. Hungary, 2014.

A store just outside the settlement bills itself as a “Tradition-Protecting” shop. There has been some flare-ups of anti-Roma violence in Hungary in recent years, and the Roma living here read this as a provocation. “They don’t want us here,” one resident told me. “We have lived here our whole lives. Our parents and grandparents lived and died here. But to them, we are still outsiders." Image by Janeen Interlandi. Hungary, 2014.

There are 11 segregated areas in Miskolc, a small city in northeastern Hungary. This past fall city leaders initiated a campaign to “eliminate the ghettos.”

As part of that campaign they began offering residents of these areas—the vast majority of whom are Roma—small sums of money to leave the city and not return. Journalist Jeneen Interlandi talks with some of the residents.