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In Armenia: Coming out of the shacks

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More than 20 years later, many earthquake victims still live in temporary shelters, the so called “domiks”. (Credits: Zaruhi Tonapetyan)

The Armenian Housing Study –conducted around a methodology developed for Habitat for Humanity’s global housing policy index, is an attempt to analyze the context and environment that affects housing issues in Armenia and to identify vulnerable groups affected by the current housing policies.

View the full study in PDF here (1MB)

Over the past two decades, Habitat for Humanity has built or improved more than 350,000 affordable homes worldwide. While this is clearly an impressive achievement for a nonprofit, it is impossible to meet the goal of “decent housing for all” through Habitat’s action-based building efforts alone.

To eliminate poverty housing from the face of the earth, Habitat’s mission should go beyond building and refurbishing homes. Through its programs in 90 countries, it can influence the overall housing policy and practice to enable a functioning housing sector that works for everyone.

As the Armenian study demonstrates, the overall housing situation in the country is largely affected by the devastating 1988 Spitak earthquake that demolished more than 17 percent of the housing stock and left thousands of people homeless. More than 20 years later, many of the earthquake victims still live in temporary shelters, the so called ‘domiks’.

On top of that, the collapse of the centrally-planned economy in the 1990s and an armed conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan left many low-income families without homes and money to complete constructions or maintain their property. “A high rate of emigration during the 1990s, national housing privatization and an overall absence of an effective demand for housing caused by a stalled economy resulted in the dilapidation of the underused permanent housing stock,” claim the authors of the study.

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Only 20 percent of the condominiums are in good shape, the rest need renovations.

Although almost 96 percent of the houses in the country are privatized, people are not able to maintain them properly. Only 20 percent of the condominiums are in good shape, the rest need renovations. As the study demonstrates, the current housing need in Armenia is not so much the lack of new homes, but the poor quality of the existing ones.

However, the Armenian Housing Study contains not only an analysis of the current situation but also recommendations for the government and housing on the measures to be taken to solve the problems, and address the primary need first. Recommendations cover areas of property rights, housing finance, housing subsidies and the regulatory regime. One of the primary messages of the housing research is that there is a need to upgrade the residential housing stock and its infrastructure and make new residential construction affordable.

These recommendations serve as a basis for the development of Habitat interventions in Armenia. To date, Habitat Armenia has supported almost 600 families in the country.

What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:

• Visit our donations page to support projects in Armenia.
• Go to country profile pages to learn about other programs in Armenia.

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