Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and Deputy Education Minister Sia Anagnostopoulou on Wednesday discussed the prospect of revamping scores of derelict buildings in central Athens for use by university and college students far from home who have not secured a place at student accommodation complexes in the capital.
According to a study by the National Technical University of Athens, there are currently around 100 empty buildings in the city center – chiefly around Omonia Square, on Panepistimiou and Patission streets, and in Psyrri and Metaxourgeio – that could be renovated for use by students. Most of the buildings have been empty since at least 2010, sources said.
Demand for state-subsidized student accommodation has risen by nearly 50 percent since the economic crisis struck Greece in 2010.
The 14,000 spots in student accommodation account for just 9 percent of the 150,000 students moving to the capital for their studies every year.
Some student unions claim that student accommodation complexes have had their funding cut, resulting in operational problems. The company providing food to the complexes has threatened to suspend supplies, demanding unpaid expenses, sources indicated.
The meeting between Kaminis and Anagnostopoulou was said to be cordial and productive, with both politicians, who are also university professors, declaring that their intentions are to revive the city center and make it more attractive to students.
The pair also discussed an older proposal by City Hall that envisages offering young people a series of incentives – including a reprieve from paying municipal charges for a year – if they relocate to the city center.
No mention was made on Wednesday about the source of funding for the new project for regenerating the center and providing additional accommodation for university and college students.
According to Kathimerini’s understanding, however, European Union funding will be made available for the purpose.