Bozhidar’s small shop

Bozhidar Todorov (57) has lived his whole life in the Kavaklia neighborhood in Dupnitsa. 

He helped build his house with his own hands, though it is not legal.  His father lived there before him, but no one can remember anyone in the family having documents to show that they own it.  To find a way to feed his family, Bozhidar opened a grocery shop in his house.  Over the years it became more and more difficult for the shop to meet regulatory requirements.  Because his livelihood was at risk, he spent a long time actively searching for a solution.

Ultimately, help came from the “Community Investment Fund – Peshtera.”  TSA helped to launch and support this Fund which is working to solve the long-standing problem of non-regulated neighborhoods throughout Bulgaria like Kavaklia.

Bozhidar’s plight is shared by more 90% of residents in his neighborhood.  To solve this problem, the Fund faced many challenges.  The first was to convince residents like him to set aside money to buy the land under their homes.  At the same time, they worked with families to obtain notary deeds for their homes so that they could be approved when applying to purchase the communal land under their house.  

Secondly, the Fund’s team had to convince local government that the change was necessary and that it would benefit people from their municipality.

TSA and the Fund approached the Dupnitsa municipality and proposed that they help to create a model that would first zone the neighborhood and then work with local residents so that they could purchase the land under their home at market value prices.

The municipality required that residents like Bozhidar first request a notarized inspection of their house so that they could qualify to buy the land, which was privately owned by the municipality.  Additionally, residents were asked to pay for accumulated local taxes and fees for their homes.

Initially, everyone said, “that will never happen.”  Residents complained that they would not be able to come up with enough money and the municipality was resistant to the model.  No one believed that after so many decades a solution could finally be found.

But the proposed solution is now a reality.  Three generations live in Bozhidar’s house – grandparents, their children, and grandchildren.  Now they can sleep in peace, knowing that their home and livelihood are legally theirs. 

The community now dreams of the day when the neighborhood will have sewers and the streets will be paved.  And step by step residents are becoming home - owners.  In 2023, 20 families received notary deeds for their properties and another 20 are waiting to go through the same procedure.  In total, 40 applications have been submitted to purchase the land on which the homes are built.