It has been two years since the demolition of homes in the ‘5th of May’ neighborhood in Tirana, paving the way for the construction of the new ‘Tirana Riverside’ district. The residents left homeless due to evictions have not yet entered their homes, despite Mayor Veliaj promising shelter for a portion of them in building 18 before the New Year. Faktoje spoke with 79-year-old Mother Liza, who was forcibly evicted from her home and now pushes through her old age in a rented room.
In September 2023, the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, spoke about the ‘Tirana Riverside’ project in the 5th of May area. He emphasized the completion of Building 18 and mentioned that a group of residents who had been left homeless due to evictions would be housed in this facility before the New Year. According to official information, the building comprises 102 apartments.
‘We are ready to accommodate the families that have won… I believe that even the residents who had informal homes here will receive something much more dignified, with underground parking’ stated Veliaj.
On January 16, Faktoje conducted verification in the ‘5th of May’ neighborhood, where we met residents whose homes were demolished due to the expropriation process. The 79-year-old, Liza Marku became the face of the day, having been forcibly removed from her residence two years ago.
I had a three-story house with 12 rooms and 6 bathrooms. It has been two years since its demolition on January 19th. I live in a rented place. I stayed some time at my children, in “Bregu i Lumit”. Now, I’m here and I’ve a room nearby.
On the day of the house demolition, I tried to at least get my funeral clothes. Four or five police officers forcibly removed me from my home, while I was protecting my children work. Today, I am without a home, without a toilet, without anything’, says the 79-year-old.
Mother Liza is requesting the state to grant her a home as soon as possible.
‘I am requesting the state to provide us with homes as soon as possible. He said he will distribute the houses, he said ‘I will give you a home before the New Year’, sometimes he will, and sometimes no. I want to get them while I am still alive; I want to die in my own home, not on the streets. I don’t trust anyone no more, but God in heaven. I don’t trust them, they lie, they lie all day long’ – she expresses.
Gjin Nikolli is another resident left homeless due to the expropriation process in the 5th of May.
The house was demolished in February 2022, and since that day, I have been living in rented accommodation. I have signed the lease, but I haven’t signed the contract because the contract does not contain any information about when I will receive the house, on which date, in which month, in which year, in which location. We have requested clarification on where and when we will receive it,’ explains Gjin Nikolli.
When asked if other residents affected by the expropriation process in the 5th of May have had their houses taken, Nikolli answers:
‘No, no. As far as we know, from here to Babrru Bridge, no one has received a house. The fact that there has been no construction here after two years indicates that even if it were to start tomorrow, it would still take two years. I don’t understand how a state, a municipality, can behave this way with its own community, its people, and its families, who are supposed to be a united family!
In the ‘5th of May’ neighborhood, some of the apartment buildings that housed the homeless due to the earthquake on November 26, 2019, had been completed, specifically in buildings number 15 and 19.
Some of them were close to completion, while work continued on others.
Regarding the implementation of the project and the families expected to be accommodated in building 18, Faktoje submitted a request for information to the Municipality of Tirana.
You can provide this information via email.
Information request submitted to the Municipality of Tirana on January 10, 2023
As of the article’s publication, we have not received a response from the respective institution.
In January 2022, Faktoje reported in an article that the expropriation and demolition of several houses in the ‘5th of May’ neighborhood for ‘Tirana Riverside’ project revealed the lack of a clear and transparent plan for housing the affected residents. They expressed concern about an agreement provided by Tirana Municipality where the period for obtaining the apartments and the specific area were not specified.
Even two years later, residents still do not have homes, and there is no information on when and where they will receive the houses.
Faktoje’s verification shows that Mayor Veliaj’s promise to provide shelter for some of the residents in the ‘5th of May’ neighborhood, two years after they were forcibly evicted from their demolished homes, is an unfulfilled promise.