Some 1,750 families in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri received new government-funded apartments on Monday more than two decades after a catastrophic earthquake that destroyed their homes.
President Serzh Sarkisian and other senior government officials inaugurated fresh apartment blocks built there as part of a $250 million government plan to complete the protracted reconstruction of the country’s northern regions still reeling from the 1988 earthquake.
According to government data, nearly 7,000 families in those areas still lacked adequate housing when the plan launched in 2008. More than 4,600 of them are to receive new apartments or houses as a result of its implementation. Over 1,000 Gyumri families moved into new homes about two years ago.
“I’ve waited for this moment for 24 years,” one middle-aged woman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) as she was about to see her new home.
“I won’t believe it until I get the keys for my apartment,” said another Gyumri resident attending the inauguration.
“Today is a historic day for us,” Gyumri’s newly elected Mayor Samvel Balasanian said in a speech. “We have brought up generations in shacks and educated our children in tents.”
The development reduced to just over 1,000 the number of Gyumri households remaining on a waiting list for free housing. About 400 apartments are currently being constructed for them.
Urban Development Minister Samvel Tadevosian said at the ceremony that the Armenian government has approved extra funding for the scheme that would make an additional 600 families in the earthquake-hit zone eligible for new housing.