Fears of homeless surge due to foreclosures

Social workers are warning that the problem of homelessness in Greece, which has been aggravated by the repercussions of the economic crisis, will worsen further if the government lifts a ban on home foreclosures at the end of the year in line with demands by the country’s international creditors.

Some 40,000 people are registered as being homeless in Greece with at least half that number believed to be based in the broader Athens area. Many of the homeless sleep on the streets, others in derelict or abandoned buildings.

According to the Athens municipality’s social services unit, a lack of state housing means only a handful of those who apply for permanent shelter can be accommodated.

And there are concerns that the ranks of the homeless will grow. If the government does not renew a ban on home foreclosures, which is set to expire on December 31, there are fears that many homeowners who are unable to meet their mortgage repayments, will also face the prospect of homelessness.

The consumer protection group, INKA, has called on MPs to insist that primary residences be protected in the event that a ban on foreclosures is lifted. The group has asked the Development Ministry to provide an assessment of the number of people who face losing their homes.