Homeless numbers rising as crisis bites

The number of homeless people in Athens and other major cities has increased sharply over the past few months, as a rising number of Greeks and immigrants are laid off by employers struggling to make ends meet. The number of people sleeping on streets, parks and in derelict buildings across Greece is believed to be significantly higher than last year when the Health Ministry registered 7,720 homeless people, less than half the estimate of 20,000 that was given by nongovernment organizations. According to a nurse working at Klimaka, one of these NGOs operating in Athens, an increasing number of unemployed Greeks are seeking help. «Last week two sacked factory laborers, aged 35 and 45, came to us – they’d been looking for work for months,» Efi Stamatoyannopoulou told Kathimerini. Klimaka has also been approached by a middle-aged Greek cleaner who has been homeless for months and by a young man who is working part-time as a model while sleeping on park benches. An increasing number of immigrants are also seeking the help of Klimaka and other NGOs. One Bulgarian migrant, a former teacher who had sought the help of Klimaka after resorting to alcohol, was killed last month in a brawl with another homeless person over a sleeping spot in the city center. Eleftherios Skiadas, Athens’s deputy mayor for social solidarity, reported a «a sharp increase in homeless people seeking our services,» adding that the profile of homeless people in Athens was changing. «These are people, young and old, who have lost their jobs and can no longer make ends meet,» said Skiadas. At the end of last month, the City of Athens opened a new shelter for the homeless on Patission Street, near central Athens. The building has a capacity of 60 beds.

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