Migrants struggle to own homes

Less than 10 percent of migrants own the homes they live in compared to 76 percent of Greeks, according to a new survey carried out by the University of Athens that compares migrants’ living conditions to those of locals. The study found that only 8.2 percent of immigrants living in Greece own their homes, a figure that is only likely to decrease in the months to come given the lack of mortgages approved by banks. Whereas 21.9 percent of loan requests were approved in 2007, only 1.6 percent have been approved this year. The survey suggests that the abodes of migrants are substantially smaller and older than those occupied by Greeks. It indicates, for instance, that 80 percent of Greeks live in homes that are at least 60 square meters in size, while 60 percent of immigrants reside in properties that are no larger than 60 square meters. Also, the apartments in which migrants live are usually basement, ground or first-floor properties, rarely include garages and less than a quarter have balconies. The survey, which is designed to be used as a tool to measure how well migrants are integrating into Greek society, also reveals the high concentration of foreigners living in urban areas. While almost two in three Greeks live in cities, the figure ranges from 70 to 90 percent among immigrants. For example, 70.3 percent of Albanians live in urban conurbations compared to 89.7 percent of Asians and Africans. About half of the roughly 1 million immigrants living in Greece are undocumented. According to the University of Athens’s research, migrant households are twice as likely to be «severely burdened» by their utility bills as Greek ones. Also, the number of immigrants who cannot meet their mortgage repayments has gone up from 5.3 percent two years ago to 8.7 percent this year.