Construction of large apartment complex for homeless families in Gyumri

Ongoing

Our Gyumri

Construction of large apartment complex for homeless families in Gyumri

PROJECT TYPE:

Construction

LOCATION:

Gyumri

DONORS:

Armenia Fund

Project Details

 

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Within the framework of the “Our Gyumri” project, Armenia Fund (the Fund) will build an apartment complex to accommodate between 50 and 60 homeless families. The project is intended to benefit economically-vulnerable families currently living in shanties (also known as domiks) in Gyumri, who will be selected as beneficiaries based on a set of specific criteria. The project is expected to fundamentally improve the beneficiaries’ quality of life, enabling them to become homeowners and build a better future.

Through the “Our Gyumri” project, people who for years, or even decades, have been living in makeshift dwellings and have long lost hope for changing their situation will be provided with bright, renovated, and fully-furnished apartments that also feature all necessary home appliances.

The uniqueness of the project lies as much in its substance as its methodical approach and securement of its continuity and sustainability. The project will not only solve a housing issue per se, but will consistently endeavor to promote positive change in the lives of its beneficiaries, in terms of their social and psychological well-being, higher living standards, employment opportunities, educational advancement, as well as full integration in the community through involvement in cultural, sports, and other spheres. As a result of the removal of more than 50 of the unsightly shanties, as well as the renovation of one more half-constructed building, Gyumri will become all the more attractive. With the elimination of shanties, the grounds which they currently occupy will be transformed into spaces for the community’s economic development, which in turn will contribute to an increase in tourism. The beneficiaries will be fully involved and integrated in every phase of the project.

The structure intended to be renovated for the project is an unfinished building that was constructed after the 1988 Spitak earthquake. It has been inspected by experts and determined to be suitable for the purposes of the project.

The ultimate goal of the project is to have a well-ordered and attractive city, with a highly-developed, economically-secure, and healthy community.

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Problem statement

Today, more than 30 years after the devastating Spitak earthquake, there are still large numbers of shanties in Gyumri. Based on data provided by the Municipality of Gyumri, currently there are 2,804 shanties, while an initial study indicates that the number of such dwellings has now reached 2,858.

In Gyumri alone, 20,612 homes, including apartments, were either completely destroyed or became uninhabitable as a result of the 1988 earthquake. Over the years, 21,184 homes, including apartments, were built in Gyumri through various projects, surpassing the number of homes lost in the earthquake. Nonetheless, the number of homeless people in Gyumri is still extremely high, more than 30 years after the disaster.

According to a 2017 study released by the RA National Statistical Service titled “Social Snapshot and Poverty in Armenia,” the Shirak Region has Armenia’s highest rate of poverty, with 44 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Most families who live in Gyumri’s makeshift houses lost their homes in the 1988 earthquake. In the years following the disaster, a segment of this population was provided with makeshift houses, but eventually a new housing crisis emerged as families kept growing but still could not afford to leave their shanties. By providing a makeshift house for each home lost in the earthquake, the government has considered the housing problem resolved. Further compounding the issue is the fact that many families have not been recognized by the government as eligible for housing assistance, since, it’s been claimed, they had not applied for assistance in a timely manner.

Thus, by remaining unresolved for long years, Gyumri’s housing problem has led to a host of further issues: as a result of living in the unsanitary conditions of shanties with little or no protection against the winter cold and the summer humidity, and which lack even the most basic of amenities such as proper restrooms and kitchens, many residents have developed serious illnesses. As significantly, residents of these shanties have all but lost their sense of self-worth and dignity. As they continue to live on the fringes of mainstream society, they feel abandoned and are afflicted by a deep sense of hopelessness.

For over 30 years now, generations have been born and raised in Gyumri’s “temporary” huts, and have come to accept the horrific conditions of their dwellings as the norm.

In addition to having to grapple with a myriad of social, psychological, and financial issues, the residents of these huts struggle day and night against the endemic problem of vermin infestation. Most huts are built with scrap metals or wood, while some are partially covered with stones. Nearly all of the shanties are not safe for human occupation, and continue to deteriorate. Many residents have given up on their professions and aspirations. Having lost their faith in a better future, they now struggle for mere survival.

Armenia Fund has been providing homes to economically-disadvantaged Gyumri families since 2014. Most of these families have demolished their former shanties and transferred their lots to the municipality.

The stakeholders

The main stakeholders in the implementation of the project are the beneficiaries, the benefactors, and the Armenia Fund. We will work together with local and international public and benevolent organizations, and a wide range of individual donors and donor organizations.

The beneficiaries will be selected, according to a set of specific criteria, from among those registered with the RA Urban Development Committee for housing assistance, as well as the Fund’s own list of close to 300 applicants.

The new homes will be distributed equally to economically-vulnerable families currently living in shanties; and economically-vulnerable people of various professions — blue-collar workers, artists, architects, engineers, athletes, intellectuals, and others — who urgently need housing assistance.

Project Goals:

  1. Main goal. 2. Main results. 3. Immediate results.  4. Project activities.

The main and long-term goal of the project is to have a well-ordered and attractive city, with a highly-developed and economically-secure community. The project is expected to spur economic development throughout the city, and to create conditions for the realization of families’ dreams and personal growth, as well as continued community development.

By providing families with new homes, the project will improve beneficiaries’ daily lives and livelihoods, while the city of Gyumri will gradually be rid of its shanties, thereby fostering urban renewal and development.

In addition to ending the beneficiaries’ housing plight, the project will provide them with opportunities for employment, educational advancement, training, and obtainment of new skills.

The launch of the project will be followed by the involvement of beneficiaries and the community as a whole in the various activities of the initiative. These will include construction work, from the cleaning and preparation of the grounds of the building that will be constructed to all the phases of construction until it is completed. Also, throughout the implementation of the project, reasonable suggestions made by beneficiaries toward the optimal realization of the project’s main goal will be taken into consideration.

Beneficiaries living in the new building will be able to cultivate the grounds of their former shanties and reap the benefits of farm work, thereby eventually coming to view these grounds in a new, positive light, as a healing counterpoint to the bad memories associated with life in the shanties.

The first floor of the new building will be assigned as a space for providing residents with job-training as well as employment, reflecting their particular areas of expertise, skills, and preferences. The first floor will consist of a range of job-training and continuing-education workshops as well as a variety of small businesses, encompassing spheres such as hairdressing, jewelry-making, food production, computer services, and painting, among others.

The new building will feature green, landscaped grounds, designed for the leisure and comfort of children and adults alike.

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Main results

  • The living conditions of beneficiaries are completely improved.
  • Beneficiaries are provided with professional-training and work opportunities.
  • “Our Gyumri” becomes a model project, and is accordingly included in Gyumri’s core initiatives for urban renewal.

Immediate results

  • Families living in shanties are provided with new homes.
  • Various groups of workers and workers-in-training are formed, in accordance with beneficiaries’ preferences, skills, and abilities.
  • The grounds of the shanties are cleared, turned into arable plots, and cultivated by the shanties’ former residents, while unfinished buildings are renovated to provide housing.

Project activities

  • Conceive a modern design for the building slated for renovation and formulate a model for the future utilization of the grounds of demolished shanties, by encompassing the opinions of relevant experts and the suggestions of the community, based on its needs and wishes; and determine criteria for selecting beneficiaries, based on the finalized project concept.
  • Organize the entire process of renovating and finishing the building, based on the finalized project concept.
  • Organize the demolition of shanties and the subsequent utilization of their grounds for farming, based on the finalized project concept.
  • Allocate the first floor of the new building entirely for various professional workshops, where building residents will receive trainings of their choice, and eventually will have the opportunity to work on-site.
  • Once all beneficiaries have moved into the new building — which will also feature state-of-the-art green technologies such as solar panels and heaters — demolish the shanties and transform their grounds into vegetable and fruit groves and nurseries. These will be cultivated by the former residents of the shanties. By doing so, these individuals and families might be able to establish a new, and fulfilling, bond with their places of former residence.

Project sustainability

Following the construction of the building, the demolition of shanties, and the transformation of their grounds into groves or nurseries, a Council will be formed to secure the long-term sustainability of the project. The Council will include representatives of the community (building residents) and the Fund, as well as individuals who are qualified to quickly respond to and provide solutions for a range of issues including the safety and maintenance of the building, and the tending of its grounds.

Property-tax rates will be determined, and taxes will be paid, in accordance with the RA Tax Code.

Excess energy obtained through the building’s solar panels will be used to offset certain expenses involved in the normal maintenance of the building and its grounds.

The activities of the groups and workshops of the first floor will be supervised by the Council on a permanent basis, with each activity steered by specialists in a given sphere.

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