Termination of housing program for refugees in greece

-collective group Room39

The termination of the housing program for all families who are either recognized as refugees or entitled to subsidiary protection, or whose application case is still pending, is now scheduled for November 15th.

In other words, we are at the point where the most vulnerable cases with serious health issues, disabilities and psychiatric aggravated diseases, who have remained in the housing program, are forced to either return to their countries from where they were sent away or to be overcrowded and survive in the most miserable camps of Greek hospitality, or end up homeless.

Some more details about Estia program.

The program was running by NGOs and was funded by UNHCR from 2015. The program was for asylum seekers, mostly for families or single people with vulnerabilities and usually in apartments, into the cities.

This program now, renamed Estia II, has been under state control the last two years. The Ministry of Immigration and Asylum took over from September 2020, always with funding from the EU. Some of the NGOs which continue in Estia II program, or some new ones who joined the program, they push the migrants really hard to leave the houses. Sometimes they are lying about a new house that doesn’t exist, or a fake woman shelter for the cases of a single women with children. They force them to sign papers written in greek. In some cases, they even cut off the water and the electricity. They threaten the migrants, either sending extrajudicial statements, either using the police.

For the immigrants that their asylum has been rejected, the best is to apply again. They will probably be rejected again, but the point is to have some papers so deportation is less possible. Also if they try to stay here for seven years -having proofs for this staying period- they have the right for residence permit in the country. But through this time they are illegally here, so they need to be on alert.

Also for all people whose asylum case is decided, governmental accomodation and cash assistance are immediately terminated.

Is some cases the recognised refugees can apply for «Helios», a program run by IOM supporting them with partially the rent of a new house. But this is insufficient. In «Helios» program the immigrants have to find the new house and make the contract by themselves, facing the racist behavior of the owners, and pay themselves -with no money from the state- the first two months plus the real estate office. Finally, they usually find a bad quality apartment and the money that they receive afterwards is not enough for the rent and the total expenses.

We are a team that is fighting against the evictions of immigrants in Thessaloniki. Our group is mixed with migrants and locals. We contact people under eviction threat, support them in a material and a political way, and try to make the issue public. When we are informed about a possible eviction we are present to the house and support the family in the whole process, trying to cancel the evacuation. We inform the migrants so they don’t abandon their houses just because of fear.

We also cover some basic needs, such as food and clothing supplies, housing equipment, basic pharmacy support, language lessons. We invite the immigrants to our collective kitchen and we cook together, participating to several political festivals/events in the city. We create a trustful relationship, making things together.

On 15th of November we expect a big wave of evictions, or transportation to the camps, for all the people, either those who have asylum, either those with their request rejected, or the asylum seekers, as the state accomodation program is closing permanently. The asylum seekers will be transported to camps around Greece and outside residential areas. The rest are called to find solutions by themselves.

We call for international attention and we suggest to demonstrate on Saturday 12 November or/and on the 15th.

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