Serbian homeless man living in grave
Filed under: News
Bratislav Stojanovic, a former construction worker, moved into the tomb 15 years ago after losing his house due to debts.
The 43-year-old has never had a regular job and spends his time foraging for candles in the cemetery to keep warm in the underground plot.
His unusual home – belonging to a family that died over 100 years ago – is a concrete space, which measures just two square yards by one yard high.
Living among the dead
Stojanovic said living among the dead does not scare him.
"I was afraid in the beginning, but I got used to it in time. Now I am more afraid of the living than of the dead," he told Reuters.
But he still takes care not to frighten people when emerging from his dank underground lair.
"Whenever I want to crawl out I first check if there's someone around, otherwise I could scare a person to death," he told the news wire.
Better than the streets
Explaining his decision to move to the cemetery, he said: "As other homeless people robbed me on several occasions, I've decided to find a place where no one would bother me, not even police."
Stojanovic survives on food he collects from rubbish bins and collects cigarette butts he finds on the ground.
Officials at the cemetery say their squatter can stay as long as he does not disturb other visitors.
Homelessness in the UK
A total of 2,309 people were sleeping rough on British streets in autumn 2012, an increase of 6% from 2,181 in 2011, which was a hike of 23% from the 2010 figure of 1,768.
Money troubles are one of the key triggers for homelessness, an issue made worse by the recession. Around 1.4 million people in Britain are now falling behind with their rent or mortgage payments, according to a new YouGov survey for Shelter.
The number of people struggling to pay their rent or mortgage each month has increased by 44% over the past year, to 7.8 million people.
With austerity measures set to affect even more families this year, Shelter is urging anyone struggling with their housing costs to visit their free, online advice pages, to avoid putting their home at risk.
Shelter is also warning of the dangers of turning to short-term, high interest credit, like payday loans, as a way to help meet housing costs.
Campbell Robb, Shelter's Chief Executive, said: "It's shocking to think that so many families will be starting the New Year with a huge weight hanging over them, trapped in a daily struggle to keep their home.
"Don't wait until things reach breaking point later in the year – it could leave your family's home at risk."