NEWS

Poll of Athens's homeless presents a bleak picture

A survey of the growing ranks of the capital’s homeless has shown that seven in 10 have been on the streets for at least a year, four in 10 have been mugged at least once, while one in five homeless women has been a victim of sexual abuse.

The results of the study, carried out by the Klimaka NGO on a sample of 218 homeless people between September 2011 and February this year, were presented at a press conference in Athens on Wednesday.

The picture painted was one of growing desperation among city dwellers, including many former professionals. Many of those surveyed were previously employed in technical jobs, the construction sector, at private firms or were self-employed, Klimaka officials said. The study suggested that men were more likely to end up on the streets as eight out of 10 approached for the poll were male. A third of the respondents were divorced while nearly half (47.2 percent) said they had children.

Seven in 10 said they had become homeless in the past two years, as the economic crisis began to take hold, while more than half sleep in the streets of the historic center. Half of the respondents said they lived on less than 20 euros a month, while six out of 10 said their families were aware of their situation and in most cases indifferent. Half also said they had no friends, while 18 percent said they had attempted suicide.

Access to free healthcare is another major problem, according to project coordinator Ada Alamanou.

“People come to us with serious health problems and no access to healthcare but hospital staff tell us they have orders not to treat such cases,” she said.

Asked who was to blame for their situation, nearly half (47.6 percent) responded “politicians,” while a quarter (25.7 percent) said all Greeks were responsible.

There are an estimated 20,000 homeless people in Greece today.

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