The End of Lunik IX

Local population 5000 people
Unemployment at 95%
Large proportion of population are substance and alcohol abusers.
Ship containers for the Roma at 240 Euros per month

You can’t miss Lunik IX, but most people avoid it at all costs. It is a dilapidated block of flats in the western part of Kosice in Slovakia that receives no gas, electricity or running water. It is surrounded by garbage bags that rarely get picked up by the council, and the windows that cover its façade have been stripped for scrap metal and wood to provide meagre income for its inhabitants who are estimated to number ten thousand in 2011, three times the number planned when Lunik IX was built in 1979. The many men, women and children that play and meet on the surrounding streets do not look dangerous, but they are all Roma and that is reason enough for many of the local white population to steer clear.

In 2015 the estimated population of the Roma in Lunik IX has drastically reduced for the years from ten thousand to five thousand. Reasons being is that a lot of Roma moved abroad within the EU member states. My approach to this re-visited project was to understand the social and economical impact of poverty in Lunik IX but also to highlight if there is any Roma within Kosice that do not live in Lunik IX and who are labeled as middle class. I wanted to highlight those who have and those who have not. Those Roma who do work are employed by US Steel in Kosice mostly men. their wages typically are between 300 – 400 euros per month working 8 to 10 hour shifts. It is a physically demanding job. Must of the Roma women who do work are employed as cleaners, again with minimal wages working long physically demanding hours.

Currently the local kosice government are demolishing Lunik IX, living some Roma displaced and forced to live in the forests near Lunik IX or on the streets. As of 2015 Lunik has 9 blocks still standing but two are currently awaiting to be demolished. It is unclear what the local government are planning to do after Lunik IX is demolished. Marcel Shan the new Mayor of Lunik IX stated that Lunik IX will be rebuilt with new are improved housing for the Roma and non-Roma, but with strict criteria and three times the rent average rent. This would mean that those who do work will be priced out.

It is also known that those Roma who want to stay in Lunik IX will have to move out and placed into ship containers converted into habitable homes, but paying 240 Euros per month for the privilege. Those ship containers will be delivered 30km from Kosice where it was used as emergency shelter for the local community, their rent was 1 Euro per month.

Kosice, Slovakia. July. 8th, 2015.

Text and Photos: Artur Conka

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