Water and electricity have been cut off, and the top three stories of her four-story home have already been demolished. But with nowhere else to go, Fatma Yildiz is trying to retain a semblance of a normal existence amid the rubble. For her and hundreds like her in Izmir, a city on Turkey’s Aegean Sea coast, urban renewal is synonymous with dislocation and a gloomy future.
“We don’t know what to do,” said the 31-year-old Kurdish mother of five. “My husband doesn’t work and we don’t have the means to move. ... We won’t be able to rent a house because it’s too crowded. We can’t find any other place.”
Their home is one of thousands in Izmir’s Kadifekale district being knocked down as part of an urban renewal scheme. Recently the family was forced to accept 40,000 Turkish Lira ($25,000) for the home that Fatma’s father built when they moved to the neighborhood 25 years ago from Mardin in the southeast. The money was not nearly enough to afford one of the apartments set aside for displaced residents in a new complex nearby, and they fear homelessness awaits them when the bulldozers finally demolish what remains of the house.
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Alexander Christie-Miller is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, where he writes for the Times. Jonathan Lewis is a freelance photojournalist based in Istanbul.