“There isn’t a single person living on the street, not one homeless person exists” in Cyprus. This was what the Minister of Labour was saying just a few months ago. Nevertheless, yesterday in Limassol the remains of another homeless man were found who died abandoned. In two months, 100 people turned to the Homelessness Support Centre in Limassol.
Precisely at the same time, foreign news agencies are reporting on the homeless and housing problem in Cyprus. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are, and unfortunately more and more of them, thousands of our fellow citizens, couples and families who cannot afford the unbearable price of rents which have been soaring sky high, their loan installments and the cost required to acquire their own home.
The government must realize that the majority of society does not live in the bubble of the supposed “success story” and the Cyprus economy’s “spectacular recovery”. It must recognize the magnitude of the housing problem which is one of the most critical and burning problems society is facing today.
Furthermore, the government is called upon to acknowledge the root cause of the problem. Namely the “golden passport” scheme and construction of luxury towers that is constantly raising the price of rents and properties, the closure of the Cooperative Bank and cooperatives, the impunity of private banks, the legislative framework for foreclosures that was approved on the bank’s orders, the absence of a comprehensive state housing policy and, finally, the dramatic fall in the incomes of the majority of working people have made housing an expensive privilege instead of a social right for all.
What is taking place, of course, as the Anastasiades government pretends it doesn’t understand, is understood by the people themselves, and the overwhelming majority of society which is now reacting and demanding solutions.
The Social Alliance “Housing for All” which unites over 20 social organizations and movements, represents a hopeful initiative which puts forth demands and proposals that respond to all aspects of the housing problem. Consequently, given that the government isn’t listening and doing nothing about the housing problem, then society must force it to listen and take action.
Statement by Giorgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 27th September 2019, Nicosia