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Education for Legalization of Housing for Roma

Ms. Allison Bailey

Video Advocacy and Fundraising

NGO Organization Drom

27 JAN 2018

Albena Georgieva is a success story. She graduated from high school, earned her degree in philosophy at university, and is raising her children in a loving home. She has achieved her success despite facing the obstacles of racism and discrimination for being Roma. Georgieva lives in the Нов Път (New Road) district of Vidin, Bulgaria. This is one of the many segregated Roma communities that exist in Bulgaria. Нов Път is home to 17,000 Roma individuals. Located on the edge of Vidin, in proximity to the major cemetery of the town,  Нов Път’s residents face the challenges of acquiring legal housing, as well as poor infrastructure. According to official data from the Vidin Municipality, as of May 2017 there are 1,258 buildings in Нов Път, and 42% are illegal. This affects approximately 7,000 people living there.

Albena Georgieva

Georgieva’s living situation is unique from her neighbors. When asked to comment on the living conditions of her community, she stated that her greatest dislikes were the lack of access to healthcare and education. In her opinion, one of the largest obstacles facing the Roma community is a lack of education. When it comes to legalizing their housing, Georgieva stated that the biggest need is to convince Roma people that they are under huge eviction threat if they live in their illegal houses and to show people how to prepare the legal documents. If there is support available to help prepare these documents, it would ease the Roma community’s access to the legalization of their houses in the segregated Roma neighborhood of Vidin. According to Georgieva, many people in Нов Път want to buy their own housing, but can’t afford it. In order to legally acquire their house, a Roma family has to pay around 15BGN per square meter. Due to the extreme poverty of many residents in the Нов Път neighborhood, this price is impossible. However, since their housing is technically illegal, their homes could be easily destroyed if the municipality of Vidin decided to construct another building on their property.

Additionally, the lack of property ownership leads to health and safety concerns. A survey conducted by NGO Organization Drom in November 2017 showed that many Roma families in the Нов път neighborhood do not have basic access to basic utilities such as running water and sewage. The lack of security is an important factor when it comes to stability and permanence. Children’s well-being and success in school is directly impacted by these safety issues. Therefore, improvement in infrastructure is necessary for their future of education and employment. Since many buildings in Нов Път aren’t legally owned by the Roma community, it makes this necessary change extremely difficult.

When it comes to financially supporting the Roma community’s acquisition of legal housing, Georgieva stated that there needs to be some form of financial credit. Since many families can’t afford to pay 15 BGN per square meter, they are stuck in illegal housing. Georgieva observed that most of the Roma community is familiar with their housing rights. Organization DROM ( in its 20 years of experience held many educational meetings to inform the Roma community of such rights. However, according to Georgieva, the poorest [who are also illiterate] do not want to attend these meetings. When asked how the Vidin community as a whole can help with the issue of illegal housing in the Roma community, Georgieva commented that they shouldn’t stop the legalization of the Roma houses.

In the end, it all comes back to education. Georgieva emphasized that the more the Roma community knows about the legalization process of obtaining their homes, the more they can knowledgeably begin the acquisition of their housing. Additionally, the infrastructure of Нов Път needs to be drastically improved. The poor conditions the Roma community is living in simply exacerbates the poverty that they are stuck in. Albena Georgieva is an advocate for her community. She enjoys educating her children and has always pushed them to do more outside of their education, such as sports. When asked what she would like the Vidin community to know about her community, Georgieva said: “There is nothing better than having your own home-for them and their families.”


Interpreter: Ninna Vladova

Photographer: Ninna Vladova


Georgieva, A. (2018, January 22). Legalization of Roma Housing [Personal interview].

Open Society Foundations Final Report: Organization DROM—Equal Access to Housing for Roma in the Town of Vidin.

Roma Evictions and Demolition of Roma Houses: A Sustainable Solution for Roma Integration or a Problem of Roma Discrimination in Bulgaria? Equal Opportunities Initiative Association & Open Society Foundations.