Only 15 homeless took advantage of the three heated halls offered by the Municipality of Athens during the most freezing days and nights of this winter that occurred this week. And this even the number of homeless in the Greek capital has dramatically increased due to the economic crisis.
“The low participation is a usual phenomenon, especially during the first days, as the majority of the homeless are not aware that the hosting halls have been opened, Giorgos Apostolopoulos, in charge of the hosting facilities of Athens Municipality told daily Efimerida twn Syntaktwn. He added:
“Furthemore, many of them do not want to move into a state facility as they consider the state as their enemy and responible for their current situation and they do not cooperate.”
Video: Patras – Jan 9, 2012 – 10:42 p.m. – 6 degrees Celsius
“Passersby thought the middle-aged homeless man may have frozen to death, but they did nothing” reports local newspaper Peloponnisos “He was sitting on the ice-cold pavement with a plastic cup in front of him awaiting for some coins. When we came close, we saw his face: tired, full of the wrinkles, marked by the cold and the hardship. At least, 70 years old. ‘Are you from Patras?’ we asked and he replied ‘Yes’.
Many homeless do not want to abandon the places they have “reserved” under sheds, street corners, building entrances, near metro ventilators or self-made “shelters” they have set up with a lot of effort, only to enjoy just a couple of days in a heated municipality halls. There are also homeless insisting to remain in the places they have secured also because there they manage to earn some money or they get support by informal neighborhood networks.
“Homesless are not a homogenous group and they need a specialized approach, not only during the icy cold days,” Anda Alamanou from homeless NGO Klimaka stresses.
“Somebody may be a new-homeless, another one may be sick, a third may have psychological problems, a fourth maybe foreigner. They won’t move into a place they do not know, they may be scared. Furthermore, long time homeless will not come even close to such halls, ” Alamanou added.
Facing this problem as such, Klimaka and Athens municipality volunteers continue their street work every evening, distributing blankets, sleeping bags, hot drinks and food to the city’s homeless, and even call the ambulance when somebody is in meed of medical care.
The number of homeless in Greece has dramatically increased since the beginning of the economic crisis, with the majority of estimated more than 20,000 people without home to live in the streets of Athens.
Athens Municipality 24-hour hot line for homeless is <1960>.