ATHENS, Greece — The European Union pledged Monday to spend 80 million euros ($88 million) to house migrants in Greece even as it seeks tougher procedures for asylum-seekers traveling to the continent.
Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Commissioner for Budget and Human resources, signed an agreement for a rent subsidy program for up to 20,000 people next year.
Thousands of stranded refugees are currently being housed in old venues from the 2004 Olympics, at camps on Greek islands, or are sleeping in tents pitched in city squares and parks in Athens.
"The 80 million euros is for the year 2016 ... after that it would be assessed. It could be expanded," Georgieva told The Associated Press. "Families could stay at an accommodation for two months, so the number involved over the year would be quite a lot higher than 20,000."
Nearly 800,000 migrants and refugees have crossed through Greece this year, hoping to travel to northern Europe. But Macedonia and other Balkan countries last month toughened their border rules, restricting crossings to those from war-torn nations like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and stranding others.
Under the Greek housing scheme, assisted by the U.N. refugee agency, migrants will receive hotel vouchers or checks to live in vacant apartments.
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