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Big win for Hungarian

March 12 2014
A homeless lottery winner makes a big donation to a hostel

A homeless man in Hungary won the lottery last September – but his win only made the news last month when he made a big donation to a hostel for the homeless.

According to reports, László Andraschek was about to get on the train from his home town of Gyor, north-western Hungary, to the capital, Budapest, to attend a workshop for recovering alcoholics – when he decided to spend his last few coins on a lottery ticket.

He told the Guardian newspaper: "I had only picked six numbers and the female shop assistant reminded me that I needed to pick a seventh," he said. "I told her to make it 24 – it doesn’t matter, anyway."

If she hadn't, he would have missed out on a 630 million forint (£1.7 million) jackpot.

Andraschek has since paid off his debts, bought flats for himself and each of his three children, and bought a car – which his children will drive, as neither he nor his wife know how.

He is also planning to set up a foundation for addicts and women who have suffered domestic abuse.

Hungary is a particularly inhospitable place to be homeless after the government brought in a law last October allowing local authorities to outlaw rough sleeping.

According to Human Rights Watch, “municipalities across the country now have a green light to impose fines, community service, and even jail time (if convicted twice within six months) on the homeless. And it’s straight to jail for those convicted of erecting makeshift shelters.” The government argues, however, that people should not have the absolute right to camp out in public spaces – and says they are doing much more than the previous government to try get people off the street and into accommodation.

Government spokesman Ferenc Kumin points out that Budapest has had a law, similar to the one now brought in nationwide, in place since 2010. “Between 2006 and 2010, 131 homeless people froze to death”, he says. “Since the law went into effect in 2010 and authorities have been empowered to move homeless to the shelters, one person died for the same reason. This supposedly ‘inhumane’ measure seems to have saved lives.”

He added: “Since the Budapest decree went into effect, nobody has been forced to do community work for this reason and nobody has been detained. Instead, homeless have had to register at the local shelters and sleep in the heated rooms of these shelters.”