Dorota Dyman & Associates Real Estate on Extreme poverty
For decades after the Second World War, Paris’ clochards (the French word for beggers) were a tourist attraction. Homeless had obviously existed in other European capitals and industrial democracies, but in Paris they were a chronic problem - a side-show attraction for the socially curious people and watched closely by the social services.
In 1991, when Hungary embarked on the path toward democratisation by implementing a series of necessary reforms, the homeless made their appearance on the streets of Budapest. It was an issue widely covered by the media.
Who were these people scavenging through garbage for food?
Extensive reporting by the media discovered that they were elderly retired people. It is through the press that we have learned that about 10% of the Hungarian population lived below the poverty line. At the time, this new phenomenon was interpreted as a side effect of the country’s move towards a free market economy.
Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, homeless can be seen in the streets of Athens, the capital city of Greece. Today, there are hundreds homeless and thousands of persons receiving assistance and food from charitable organizations, mainly the Church of Greece. The press in Greece has widely reported instances of children in Athens fainting in school because they have had nothing to eat - not even milk to drink.
In Spain, another debt-stricken EU country, mass evictions have left thousands of people, including entire families, homeless.
In fact, the countries of Southern Europe have been hit hard by the economic crisis, which has left behind widespread misery and pain. But is homelessness a problem only in the Southern European countries, which have been criticised with contempt by politicians in the rich northern countries?