In Hungary the majority of the population (over 6 million out of the 10 million national total) lives in urban communities. The spatial location and development trend of the population is uneven, with a large concentration in the central region—comprising Budapest the capital city and its expanding metropolitan region with several major, growing sub-centres. The other areas are more thinly populated and declining, especially in the eastern part of the country.
After Budapest with 2 million inhabitants, the next size category of 100-200,000 population containing 7 cities, 2 near the capital (Kecskemét and Székesfehérvár) and 5 radially located outer poles (Szeged, Debrecen, Nyíregyháza, Miskolc and Pécs and Győr).
The major urban issues are the shortage of affordable housing in the growth areas and shortage of rewarding employment, especially in the cities of the northern and eastern peripheries—unemployment rate is over 10% in north and east in contrast to 5% in the central region and the west.
Urban policy is challenged by the sharp contrasts in terms of social conditions, environmental quality and economic prospects. 3.3 million people, one third of the national population, are at the risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Homelessness is an acute urban issue especially in the major and growing cities affecting several thousand people, urban migrants in search of livelihood, losing family and social ties. The locally based urban projects (including URBACT projects) are viable initiatives of urban improvement.