December 02 2013

Homelessness on the Rise: 13,500 Tenants Evicted in Greece

Athens and other major Greek cities, due to the economic crisis, are experiencing a sad mismatch between the increase of the overall homelessness and the rise of vacant buildings. Many middle- and lower- class people of moderate educational backgrounds that before the economic crisis could live in relatively good standards, now populate the decadent streets of Athen’s downtown. These newly homeless are mushrooming in Athenian streets and their presence composes a quite shocking image, especially if one thinks that Athens is the city that just a few years ago (2004) hosted the Olympic Games.

Homelessness Downtown Athens, Greece

Homelessness is a striking phenomenon because Greek cities have never actually faced a serious homeless problem, as other European cities like London and Paris have. In addition, family bonds that traditionally have worked as a protective bumper against the expansion of social phenomenon of that kind today seem to fail to provide a strong enough safety net.

However, the number of people living at the edge of homelessness will probably increase even more in the near future. According to a press report by the Greek daily “Newspaper of the Authors,” between January and October 2013 Greek Tax authorities have conducted more than 13,500 house auctions of landlords who failed to serve their debts. Yet, this number gets even higher if one also sums up the bank foreclosures and auctions caused by the inability of the landlords to pay off their loans.

Athens, Greece Homelessness Problem

Despite the big wave of auctions that have already taken place, a bigger one is about to burst on December 31, 2013. The Greek government has promised the Troika to remove the five-year ban on foreclosures and auctions for primary residency properties with a debt of up to 200,000 Euro. It’s also been whispered that Troika’s goal is to affect the high percentage of ownership occupancy in Greece (80%) and to cause a profound switch of the real estate market by attracting powerful foreign real estate kickers.

What kind of measures do you believe that can serve this delicate social issue and paradox of our contemporary societies and urban settings? Do you think that there can be a set of sustainable solutions that can serve all opposing parties – state, banks, and people – at the same time? Your comments are valuable to us, please feel free to contribute to this open dialogue.

Credits: Data linked to sources. Images by Alkisti Eleni Victoratou

Alkisti Eleni Victoratou

Alkisti Eleni Victoratou originates from Andros, a Cycladic island in Greece, and has lived and studied in Thessaloniki, England, Spain, and Athens-where she currently resides. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens. Having this multicultural and interdisciplinary background gives her a better understanding of socially sensitive urban issues. Her dissertation thesis in Architecture dealt with the study and assessment of the legislation relating to Bioclimatic Architecture in the European Mediterranean countries of France, Spain, and Greece. Her interests also extend to sustainable technologies and parametric design, contributing to building design and urbanism. During her internship with The Grid, she will concentrate on the most important top-down and bottom-up urban transformations of Athens during their current Crisis. Her aspirations are to further her academic and professional specializations in urban issues and sustainable design.

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 2nd, 2013 at 9:51 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Homelessness on the Rise: 13,500 Tenants Evicted in Greece”

  1. Katie15Price Says:

    There are an estimated 11 million empty properties in Europe. In Spain, it is reported that homeless people are moving in to occupy empty premises. Properties in Spain are now being illegally possessed by gangs who are actively renting them out to homeless people. As it takes time to evict ‘squatters’ they are, perhaps, saved from becoming homeless again for a while.

    Banks are required to ‘step-back’ in their dealings with mortgage defaulters/evictions and exercise leniency; this I gather has not been happening in Spain, or, for that matter, in other countries.

    Repossessed property in the hands of banks benefits no one. Unoccupied, boarded-up properties simply deteriorate, become vandalised and become a liability on the accounting books rather than an asset; at least until they are sold.

    All would be better served if banks would accept reduced mortgage repayments from owners, at least until normal payments can be resumed. This would keep properties maintained, uphold property values and reduce vandalism.

    However, banks have no empathy whatsoever. They care nothing for homeless people. An appeal to their ‘better nature’ is worthless – they simply have no ‘better nature’.

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