A number of citizens whose homes were seized due to debt are charging that the government’s assertions, that homes with a value of up to 300,000 euros are exempted from auction, are part of a disinformation campaign.

“I hear them [ruling party members] on TV saying that only villas and large value homes are being put on the block, and I become enraged. I want to call up and shout,” a man who identified himself as Kostas G. told the daily Ta Nea.

He speaks from bitter experience. On 18 October, a small, 60 sq.m. apartment in Agioi Theodoroi, in the Corinth region, in which his mother lived, was auctioned off by a bank to which he owed money.
The apartment was the sole home of the woman, who is living on an agricultural pension of 320 euros a month. Due to her financial dire straits, she was living for quite some time without electricity.

The 78-year-old woman had signed as guarantor of the loan before the crisis, in order to help her son’s business.

“I have a paint and body shop job and I had taken out business loans from two banks which later merged and my debt was unified. The capital with interest in the end reached 150,000 euros. Still, I tried to save it,” says Costas, a father of four.

“About a month-and-a-half before the auction, I visited the bank’s Athens headquarters. I asked to pay 350 euros monthly for the first year and 500 euros a month. They called me and rejected the offer. The home was auctioned off with a 19,000 euro starting price. I asked how they were going to get back their money at this rate, and they said simply that it is bank policy,” Costas said.

The last week before the auction Costas had gathered 2,000 euros and said he could get two or three more thousand, but the bank would not settle for anything less than 15,000.

The elderly mother’s first home in Ano Liosia was destroyed in the disastrous 1999 earthquake that hit Athens.