A group of deputies for the main opposition SYRIZA party demanded in Parliament on Tuesday that the government take action to bring some relief to the burgeoning homeless population, which has risen dramatically in the past three years as a result of the economic crisis.
The MPs cited data from the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) suggesting that the number of street homeless people and those in transitory shelters in the city of Athens is approximately 11,000 (3,000 Greeks and 8,000 foreigners), with other estimates putting that number as high as 40,000.
The SYRIZA group proposed that the government look for ways to transform disused state-owned buildings in central Athens into shelters, while also suggesting that there are unused funds available from a European Union-backed program for human resources development that could be used to alleviate the pressure on non-governmental organizations that have carried much of the burden of homeless relief programs.
“So far, the majority of services available to homeless people are of a charitable nature, while the state has failed to institute any actions for the prevention of the phenomenon,» the MPs said in a statement.
In a report in May, NGO Praksis said that it alone provides daily assistance to about 1,500 people, adding that another 11,500 people are living in squats, sometimes without electricity or running water.