2015 | Dec
The homeless, as a distinct population group, appeared in the centre of Athens in the late 80s. There are many differences between them and the paupers who also lived the city centre. In general, this is a non-homogeneous population group that includes not only elderly men but also young people, women and even children, with various educational levels. The homeless in Athens do not only belong to groups which were historically the victims of social exclusion.
Their common feature is that they are all socially marginalised but have followed different life trajectories before losing the capacity to access regular housing. Other features include the evident difficulty in securing a stable job and the absence of aggression towards state institutions or other city residents. . Very often, homelessness is accompanied by chronic or acute health problems, often amplified by the difficulty of the affected population to access relevant public services.
The homeless include Greek citizens who have come to Athens to seek work but were unsuccessful, as well as undocumented immigrants, who face enormous problems, especially at the early stages of their settling-in period. A significant proportion of the homeless are former and current drug users who face difficulties in securing stable employment, but also ex-convicts and those with an institutionalisation record in general. Some of them, for example, are young people who are forced to leave orphanages because of age limits and have never been fully integrated socially or in terms of housing. There is anecdotal evidence that since the crisis begun the number of people who have lost access to housing due to unemployment has increased , although this problem has not yet been investigated systematically. However, a recent survey on forced evictions from primary residences during the last five years did not identify anyone becoming homeless due to their failure to keep up with mortgage repayments. However, the number of those evicted from rented housing increased significantly, although that trend slowed down in 2014.
According to FEANTSA (Fédération Européenne des Associations Nationales Travaillant avec les Sans-Abri), a homeless is not only someone who lives exclusively on the street. There are four distinctly different elements in homelessness: the complete lack of basic housing (physical inability to inhabit), the inability to lead a social life (social inability to inhabit), legally precarious housing conditions (legal inability to inhabit) and precarious housing conditions for technical reasons (technical inability to inhabit). The second category includes all kinds of collective households, residences for the elderly, shelters for abused women, etc., while the last two include many members of Roma communities living in makeshift shacks built on land that they do not own.
- Sapounakis A (2001) Homelessness in a Mediterranean country: The case of Greece. Contributions in Sociology, Greenwood Press 135: 119–135.