|Chapter III – Institutional Framework for the Housing Sector in Armenia
Description of institutions involved in housing policy implementation in the country at national, regional and local levels, organization charts
The Republic of Armenia has experienced a difficult period of transition within the last ten years. Massive political and economic changes and chances within the social system have had an impact of the daily life of every Armenian, aggravated by the catastrophic event of the 1988 earthquake and the influx of refugees from the neighbouring Azerbaijan.
The last few years have special importance for enforcing the constitutional rights of citizens of the Republic of Armenia. The citizens of the Republic of Armenia (RA) have, among other various rights, the fundamental right to housing. This right is granted by the following, the Constitution of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (ArmSSR) of 1936, the Constitution of 1977 and Article 31 of the Constitution of 1995.1
In 1990 the Republic of Armenia adopted the law “On Property in the Republic of Armenia” and in 1991 the Land Code (1991). The former was aimed at establishing legal grounds for the formation of a market economy, the consolidation of the business system and property, furthermore, the development of different types of property. For the first time in the Republic of Armenia this law legally provided for the allocation of land to citizens with the right of ownership (the Law on Property, Article 11).1
However to understand the process it is relevant to portray the legal system in existence under the Soviet regime, for the reason that the prior system still influences how people view housing policy and what assumptions are being made where the law is silent or unclear.2
The fundamental element of the Soviet legal system concerning housing was the primary focus on state property as the basis of housing. In keeping with the emphasis on state ownership, the law did not permit these homeowners to either own the land or to be eligible for state loans. In addition, the law did not permit these owners to reconstruct or renovate their homes.2
However the past years have had a crucial importance for enforcing the constitutional rights and numerous legislative changes have taken place. The Soviet legal system has been overturned and replaced, remarkably:
everyone has a right to purchase and holds ownership of a home;
state apartments may be privatised;
individuals may rent state-owned or privately owned apartment units;
individuals may construct homes or apartment buildings and acquire land
(either own or rent) for that reason;
subject only to relevant urban development regulations;
individuals may seek loans to assist in achieving their housing goals;
individuals may own or rent more than one home.
In 1995, the Ministry of Urban Development was established commencing out of the previous Ministry of Construction, the Departments for Architecture and for Urban Development, and the ARMGEODESY enterprise, as well as certain functions of the Ministry of Communal Services. The Ministry prepares draft legislation and develops projects for the implementation of government policies and programs. Most of the housing functions falling within the jurisdiction of the Government of Armenia is undertaken by the Ministry of Urban Development.
MINISTRY OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT
3RD GOVERNMENT BUILDING
TEL: (374-1) 589-080
FAX: (374-1) 565-180
CONTACT: MR. DAVID LOKYAN, MINISTER
The Ministry is organized according to the following structure:
Office of the Minister
Department of Finance and Economy
Department of Science and Technology
Department of Urban Development Policy
Department of Architecture
Department of Inspection of Urban Development Activities
Department of Housing Policy & the Communal Service Policy
Department of Personnel and Special Task Policies
Department of Law
Department of Secretary
Department of Technical Norms and Standards
Department of Companies Work Management and Privatisation
Of these departments, the following are particularly relevant to housing:
Department for Housing Policy & for Communal Policy - formulation and implementation of the housing policy; communal infrastructures, primarily water sources, water supply and sewerage networks, purification facilities.
Department for Urban Development Policy- housing construction policy, territorial planning, urban lands, Urban Development norms, procedures on construction;
Department for Architecture – design for various types of houses, standardization, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings;
Department for Science and Technology - scientific research carried out with regards to all aspects of Ministry responsibility; development of construction standards, norms and regulations;
Department for Technical Norms and Standards - norms for the construction industry.
The structure of the Ministry includes scientific-research and project-undertaking organizations which carry out relevant activities ordered by the Ministry.
State Scientific Research and Design Institute on Urban Development, Geodesy and Cartography (was established in October 1998);
Stock companies in which the Ministry holds its share of stocks:
ARMPROJECT Institute - designing of housing and civil constructions, engineering infrastructures;
Institute of Seismically Resistant Construction - reinforcement and modernisation of buildings;
COMMUNPROJECT Institute - designing of housing and communal buildings, maintenance and modernisation of the housing stock;
PROMPROJECT Institute - designing of industrial buildings;
ENGPROJECT Institute - engineering surveying and protection of inhabited locations from hazardous natural phenomena.
Housing policy in Armenia is developed and implemented through the Government of Armenia, in specific the Ministry of Urban Development. Certain aspects of the implementation of programs are handled by the marzes and communities (local governments). More specifically, the jurisdictional division of responsibilities may be defined as follows:
Jurisdiction of the Government of Armenia:
determines housing policy for the country;
determines policies for access to housing and to housing related subsidies;
determines the basis for grants and loans for housing construction;
defines the real estate tax;
sets maintenance standards for the existing housing stock;
determines rules for the provision of state land for housing construction;
regulates housing construction;
establishes urban development policies and procedures.
Jurisdiction of Territorial Governing Bodies (Marzes)
administer the regulation of housing construction;
administer the purchase of homes from the state budget;
oversee the housing stock in the territory outside the administrative borders of communities;
police unauthorized construction in the territory outside the administrative borders of communities;
supervise the activities of the communities in the housing sphere.
Jurisdiction of Local Self-governing Bodies (Communities)
administer the allocation and operation of houses and other shelter (for example, shelters);
work with condominiums regarding their issues (administration, maintenance);
administer urban development and construction processes and regulations;
police unauthorized construction.2
Within Yerevan on Municipality Level the following contact point is of relevance –
Yerevan Mayor’s Office
13 Grigor Lusavorchi Street
TEL: (374-1) 524-370
FAX: (374-1) 583-964
List of important NGOs involved in the housing sector
During the Soviet Areas the concept of an NGO was not known nor was the establishment of NGOs foreseen. However since independence, the establishment of NGOs in the various sectors has taken a steady progress. For example, in 1994 the Armenian Assembly of America created the NGOC (Non Governmental Organisation Centre) to help Armenians and their fledgling organizations shape positive social, political and economic transformation in Armenia. Funded by USAID, it continues to play a unique role in rebuilding Armenia and empowering its citizens. Various International Organisations are providing grants for NGOs for capacity building techniques include training, partnership development, small grants programs, media outreach, electronic communications, technical assistance, information and research, and legal reform/awareness activities. Therefore, supporting individuals and organizations in Armenia as they endeavor to construct the basic building blocks of democracy. Non-governmental organizations are seen by donors as essential agents of change in creating and strengthening civil societies by serving vulnerable populations and advocating for citizens' rights.
However, it remains while NGOs in Armenia readily identify the crucial issues in their communities and devise strategies to address them, they frequently lack the resources to implement projects.
The following NGOs are involved in the housing sector34:
Mission: Multiunit building owners rights protection, owners training on building management, relevant laws improvement and programs implementation
Contact Persons: Rouben Ter-Grigoryan (president)
Phone: 413749, 415397