Nowadays, tourism is one of the primary directions of the city's development and the government promises to provide multimillion investments for the development of the sector.
In this context, even RA Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan has invested his personal funds in Gyumri. However, among numerous programs to develop Gyumri, there is no single program to relieve the city from the shelters and solve the problem of homelessness for about 30 years. Temporary wagon-shelters can be seen in different, even in the central parts of the city.
Media Center initiated and held a discussion in Gyumri on November 10, entitled “Gyumri Development Programs and Solutions to Homelessness Issues: Efficiency of Budgetary Expenditures” . An invitation was sent both to local government bodies and NGOs concerned of the issue.
Until now, there are no clear official figures on homelessness and the number of wagon-shelters in Gyumri. Various organizations, foundations, non-governmental organizations, even parties, have conducted studies in that direction. Different calculations show that the number of homeless families in Gyumri reaches up to 3,000 families.
Tigran Harutyunyan, Head of Housing Infrastructure Division of Urban Development Department of Shirak Regional Administration of RA, says that by issuing certificates for purchase of flats for 84 homeless families in 2017, the state has exhausted its commitments to earthquake-affected families. Tigran Harutyunyan at the same time agrees that the problem of homelessness is not solved in the city, and the number of homeless families is more than 84.
“We have researches that there are approximately 600-700 homeless people in Gyumri, who did not submit documents for various reasons in 2008-2010and were left out of state programs. And the number of shelters is about 1800-2000, and, naturally, families living there are homeless but not because of the earthquake.”
Levon Barseghyan, Member of “Gala” Faction of Gyumri Council of Elders referring to the RA Government notes that there are 30,000 homeless families in Armenia, which makes up 4.5% to 5% of the population. “Every 20th family is homeless, according to state authorities. And the city of Gyumri in this sense is particularly vulnerable. There are 90 to 95 temporary dwellings in Gyumri. Sometimes the number of shelters in them is very small, for example, only 2 cottages. However, they are strangled territories.”
The council member has calculated that $35 to $40 million is needed to solve the problem of homelessness in Gyumri.
“This amount is about 1.2-1.3% of the state budget, and if this figure is divided into 4 years, then $ 8-9 million per annum will be required to put an end to this problem in four years and to make Gyumri liberate from homeless people. But this ulcer is not healed and continues to ruin the city.”
Arthur Hambardzumyan, Administration Expert, raised the issue of accountability of the agencies and officials concerned. “We have to pay attention to the disobedience of the bodies of the government as a result of which this issue is still being maintained in these 30 years. If we talk about 2000 homeless families, it's about 10,000 people. And if we compare it with the current population in Gyumri, it will turn out that more than 10 percent of the city's population is homeless.”
Gharib Harutyunyan, Head of “Gyumri without Makeshift Shelters” Foundation, says that their organization conducted a research and they clearly know how many shelters are in Gyumri and how many people live there.
“There are about 3,400 shelters and if we remove the number of garages and the destroyed shelters, we can say that 2500 families live in shelters which includes stone-made and semi-trunk houses.”
Susanna Asoyan, Member of “Prosperous Armenia” Faction of Gyumri Council of Elders, presented the study findings conducted by their party. “We found out that there are 3100 shelters in Gyumri. These families have become homeless for a variety of reasons.”
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Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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