2015 | Dec
After 1990, a significant number of migrants arrived and settled in the Prefecture of Attica and, mainly, in the Municipality of Athens, in the context of an already changing urban environment. The 1980s was a decade of intense social and demographic change both in the city centre and the periphery.It brought about significant transformations to the city’s function.
In particular, the 1980s saw a limited rise but a significant geographic redistribution of the population in Attica, the prevailing tendency being a move towards the suburbs. The population losses in central residential areas and the growth in peripheral areas where more pronounced for middle to high social and professional strata, while the biggest population increases were observed in the so-called “good suburbs” in the city’s north as well as to the south-east of the urban agglomeration of the capital (Μαλούτας et al., 2006) . Within a period of just ten years, the population of the Municipality of Athens dropped from 885,737 in 1981 to 772.072 in 1991, while, according to the latest census, it merely reaches 664,046 residents in 2011.This population includes a significant number of migrants, which were added to the overall population in the past two decades .
This constant population shrinkage, together with the socially imbalanced character of the ‘flight’ to the suburbs already noted since the beginning of the 1980s, resulted in a significant vacant, run-down and depreciated housing stock in central areas of the Municipality of Athens.
During that period, small and medium-scale retail businesses also moved towards the suburbs. Until the late 1970s 41% of all commercial activities of the Attica Region were located in the Municipality of Athens. That location gradually lost its dynamic and, by 2011, that percentage had dropped to 34% (Γεωβάση Αττικής 2012). The entry of multinational chains and shopping centres in the domestic market and the establishment of new shopping malls in the suburbs, further weakened commercial activities in the city’s central neighbourhoods. Today, the percentage of closed retail stores in the city centre exceeds 30% (National Confederation of Greek Commerce-Institute of Commerce & Services, 20/09/2012), although the economic crisis is an additional key factor explaining this.
As mentioned already, migrants who arrived in Greece mainly gathered in the Region of Attica and approximately half of them settled in the Municipality of Athens (Βαϊου et al. 2007). According to the 2011 census, migrants represent 17.7% of the total population in the Central Sector of the Prefecture of Attica,
This paper aims at underlining the importance of the presence of the immigrant population in the Municipality of Athens for disrupting the desertion, abandonment and degradation trends in the housing stock and the business activity in the city centre.
To this end, our study focused on the participation of migrants in housing and business in two of the Municipality’s neighbourhoods, Kypseli and Metaxourgeio. With regard to housing, we recorded the ratio and geographical distribution of tenants, both Greek and migrants, based on the names written on doorbells of a representative sample of apartment buildings .
As to business activities, we recorded the number and location of open and closed migrant retail shops and service outlets as well as some of their features, such as the type of commercial activity, the migrant shopkeeper’s place of origin and the clientèle. In addition, we recorded the overall activities of both migrants and Greeks in three representative central streets in each neighbourhood, to define the ratio between them .
Σύμφωνα με τις επιτόπιες καταγραφές στην Κυψέλη και στο Μεταξουργείο, 15 % και 16,5 % των διαμερισμάτων αντίστοιχα κατοικείται από μετανάστες ενώ ένα άλλο 15 % και 21,5 % του οικιστικού αποθέματος της κάθε περιοχής παραμένει κενό.
According to our survey, in Kypseli 15% of the apartments is inhabited by migrants while another 15% of the housing stock lies empty. These figures are 16.5% and 21.5% in Metaxourgeio.
Map 1a: Number of immigrants per block of flats in Kipseli (sample of 600 block of flats and 11.213 apartments)
Map 1b: Number of Greek residents per block of flats in Kipseli (sample of 600 block of flats and 11.213 apartments)
In Kypseli, the geographical distribution of migrant residents is relatively uniform, apart from a reduced presence along Fokionos Negri street (where rents remain high) and a slightly raised concentration in the north-west where lower income families have traditionally resided. A comparison of the geographical distribution between migrant and Greek residents shows that settlement patterns are similar, indicating a generally balanced ethnic mix in the housing sector (map 1a, 1b). Similarly, in Metaxourgeio, migrant residents are spread relatively evenly throughout the area, with the exception of a slightly increased concentration in the north-east, near Omonia Square (map 2a, 2b).
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