Where to find food and shelter

On the corner of Pireos and Sophocleous streets, not far from the Athens Stock Exchange, is the City of Athens’s canteen for the homeless. In a dining room built to seat 90 people, 400 Greeks receive a hot meal every lunchtime and 600 foreigners every evening. The municipality has two hotels each with 180 beds – one of which had 15 empty beds on the day we visited. «The municipality has also reactivated its Foundation for the Homeless by signing an agreement with the Red Cross to renovate a building in Halkokondyli Street where homeless people can stay overnight, have a shower and wash their clothes,» said Deputy Mayor Eleftherios Skiadas, who said it was a priority set by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis and had received widespread support. State hostels The Health Ministry’s two hostels – one in Kareas for 40 people and another in Aghios Ioannis Rendi for 65 more – are the pride of the General Secretariat for Social Solidarity. «They are like good hotels,» said General Secretary Ioanna Despotopoulou, although she added that there were still far too few beds. «We are donating another 4 million euros a year from the state lottery to local parishes to organize canteens.» We joined one of the «social solidarity dinners» held twice a week at the Klimakas Center for 40-50 people, open every morning and most afternoons, providing a range of assistance. It also has a hostel for 10 people. «We want to do away with this situation, not preserve it,» said staff. Another organization, the «Ark of Love,» takes food to about 100 people where they sleep, in a truck provided by the Christian Solidarity organization.

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