David Pozzati
Photographer


The Cigna’s Tower: Livorno emergency housing





Livorno is one of the cities in Italy with a high rate of demand for emergency housing. During the years from 2014 until today, as written in the SUNIA report (National Union of Resident and Tenant), evictions in the city reach historic highs. The numbers of evictions are dramatic in relation to the citizens of Livorno. The seaside town is one of the cities in Italy with the highest number of evictions and in 2015 was named “Italian capital for the highest rise of evictions for habitants”: this report stated that 1 in 30 people were evicted, despite the national average being 1 in 80. In the face of this dramatic situation, Livorno in 2016 had 4000 public housing closed and empty and not assigned because they did not meet compliance standards. On a report of the ASIA USB union of Livorno, which works for the citizens rights to have an house, it was found that up to December 2017, there were 30 evictions a month, one each day. What are the consequences of this dramatic situation? How does it affect the city? Many people over the years, due to the economic crisis, and the consequent waste of economic resources and loss of jobs, had no means to pay a regular rent. They ended up on the street or with executive evictions. To overcome this situation many of these people took the decision to occupy abandoned houses and buildings. This is the case of the Cigna Tower (Torre della Cigna), a giant concrete monster with 19 floors, located in a suburban in the north side of the city. In the past it was part of the tax office headquarter of the city. It has been abandoned for around 10 years and not in use. Tower occupation took place on February 26th 2016, during the night. 20 families moved into the tower with the support of Asia usb union. Todays there are around 50 families, approximatly 200 people, from different countries such as: Italy, Romania, Senegal, Tunisia, living in it. Asia usb handles the entire building with rules that every person has to respect to live alongside the other occupants. Asia usb also supports families to get the documents required to apply for government funded housing. For Asia usb the Cigna occupation is not a final solution but just a temporary way to take a breath of their economic problems. For all the people and families living in Cigna it has become a lifeline, without it they would probably have ended up on the streets. Every Thursday on the ground floor, occupants gather to discuss the rules and problems of the building and to assign the maintenance work to do during the week in the common areas. They also discuss solutions to improve their quality of life inside the tower. Every Monday, at the union headquaters, there is a meeting with the union members and people struggling to afford housing can come to ask for a temporary place to live. Asia Usb manage 11 occupations in the city of Livorno. There are rules against any form of violence or crime inside the occupied buildings. To get access applicants have to guarantee their economic problems by submitting the ISEE form (Italian tax return) and must earn under 6000€ per year. Through this process, the union can guarantee equal measures for assigning places and ensure those most in need are given priority and people are not given the opportunity to exploit this process. Despite all the problems Asia usb try to find the best solutions for living arrangements inside the buildings. The loss of jobs and economic resources, paired with a sense of powerlessnes, remain the biggest frustration for these people. Even though a place like the Cigna Tower exists, the hope is that a better answer to these problems exists in the future.