One Fifth of Homeless People in Sofia are University Graduates
Every second homeless person in the capital comes from the province, according to data from social workers from the crisis centers in Sofia show. "These are mainly people from small towns who come to Sofia to work as builders and taxi drivers. When they are out of work, they prefer to live on the streets instead of returning to their native places, "explained social worker Maria Koleva to Monitor.
According to the last data of the Social Assistance Agency (SAA) at the end of the first half of the year there are 1,068 homeless people registered, or 239 more compared to the same period in 2016. Half of them are on the streets of Sofia and the rest wander in Varna, Plovdiv, Ruse and Burgas.
A study by the City Nomads Association shows that 20% of people living in Sofia streets are university graduates. The data show that the average homeless person is a man between 50 and 60, with a long work experience behind him. Part of the wanderers have remained in the street after property fraud, others after a scandal with relatives.
Anton, a 56-year-old, had become without a roof over his head after his son drove him out of the apartment. "I had problems with alcohol and after another scandal, my son just threw me away. There is nowhere else to go. If it is not the center, I will die of cold on the street, "says the man who has been wandering in the streets of Sofia for 3 years.
During the day, the illiterate man begs for charity at Vitosha Blvd, and at night he returns to the center of Zaharna Fabrika. Nearly half of the wanderers earn their living by collecting waste for recycling, according to a survey of Urban Nomads. Searching in the paper and glass bins, homeless people earn between 5 and 10 leva a day. Much of the homeless have been working for a day or two like building cleaners or flower sellers. 16 per cent earn with begging.
Only 4 percent of homeless people rely on state help. "People get used to the wandering way of life. There are people who categorically refuse shelter in a temporary accommodation center, where they can stay up to 3 months, "says social worker Maria Koleva. Her experience shows that even on the coldest days, about 30% of homeless people prefer city parks to warm beds in crisis centers.
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