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More than 2,800 new houses and apartments will be constructed this year in Armenia’s northwestern regions devastated by the catastrophic 1988 earthquake, government officials said on Thursday.

According to Ruzan Alaverdian, a deputy minister for urban development, this will raise to 4,617 the total number of new homes built under a $250 million government program launched in 2008.

The program is mainly financed from a $500 million Russian loan disbursed to Yerevan in 2009. It is supposed to essentially complete the protracted reconstruction of the Shirak and Lori regions. According to official data, nearly 7,000 local families that became homeless after the earthquake still lacked adequate housing as of 2008.

A progress report on the scheme presented by Arakelian during a weekly meeting of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s cabinet says that almost 1,750 apartments and houses have already been built in the area. Most of them are located in Shirak’s capital Gyumri. President Serzh Sarkisian inaugurated a new residential district there last July.

The ceremony was originally due to take place in December 2009. It was delayed after Sarkisian strongly criticized the quality of the construction work carried out by a private company contracted by the government.

Alaverdian said that another 1,000 will be provided with new housing next year. More than 600 of them will move into newly built homes, while the remaining ones will receive government funding to buy new apartments, she said.

“We will fulfill our commitments by 100 percent,” Prime Minister Sarkisian told ministers for his part.
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