Atlantic Cities
Postcard

Portraits of Desperation: Unemployed and Homeless in Greece

There are a lot of numbers used to tell the story of Greece's economic crisis. The country's unemployment rate hovers around 25 percent; a whopping 58.3 percent of the country's 15- to 24-year-olds are without a job. The homeless population has doubled since 2009, growing from 11,000 to more than 20,000 now. Greece’s economy contracted for a 19th straight quarter, its GDP has fallen 5.6 percent from a year ago.

Lost sometimes in the hard data are the individual stories -- tales of workers with years of experience and no options, left to live on the streets or in abandoned buildings when their savings run out.

Below, via Reuters, stories and portraits of suffering:

Michael, 36-year-old and unemployed, poses by an abandoned open-air cinema in central Athens February 8, 2013. Michael worked as a hotel clerk for over fifteen years but when the hotel closed he was unable to find work and in late 2011 became homeless. Two months later he was diagnosed with lymph node and thyroid cancer. He now lives outside a church. Picture taken February 8, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Andy, a 53-year-old unemployed German immigrant from Dusseldorf, sits by his makeshift home at a deserted harbour storage building in the port of Piraeus, near Athens April 13, 2013. Andy worked in Greece for many years became homeless after he lost his job six years ago. Picture taken April 13, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Giorgos, 50, sits with his belongings under a bridge, where he lives with a group of other homeless people, in central Athens May 25, 2013. Giorgos was forced to close down the billiard hall he owned in 2006, and spent time in prison for not paying his social security debts. Picture taken May 25, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Yiorgos, a 40-year-old who became homeless in 2010 after his grocery shop went out of business, sleeps outdoors in central Athens February 3, 2013. Picture taken February 3, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Yannis, a 53-year-old unemployed chef, sits with his head in his hands in front of a graffiti mural in central Athens January 28, 2013. Yannis was a chef for over 19 years, until he lost his job in 2010 and a year later became homeless. Picture taken January 28, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

A man waits to receive food outside Klimaka, a charity that works with the homeless, in Athens February 27, 2013. Picture taken February 27, 2013.(Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

People line up to receive food outside Klimaka, a charity that works with the homeless, in Athens February 27, 2013. Picture taken February 27, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Boris Potev, a 56-year-old Bulgarian immigrant, lies on a mattress amid garbage in an Athens suburb April 9, 2013. Picture taken April 9, 2013.(Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Costas, 63, and Rodoula (L), 28, who have been unemployed for over five years, watch television in an abandoned building in central Athens April 17, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Tareq, a 46-year-old unemployed painter, sits in the shed where he lives at an abandoned factory in central Athens May 30, 2013. Tareq, a Syrian refugee, who lived in Greece during the 1990s, returned to Syria, but fled back to Greece in 2012, to escape the violence there. Picture taken May 30, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Alexandros, a 42-year-old from Serres in northern Greece, sits in the abandoned car he lives in, at the port of Piareus near Athens April 10, 2013. Alexandros owned a plant shop in Athens until 2010, when it was forced to close, he became homeless soon after. Picture taken April 10, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Homeless immigrants from Syria and north Africa sit near their home in the central train station, Athens May 2, 2013. Picture taken May 2, 2013. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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