The role of the Housing Consortium
One of the crucial problems that Syrian Armenians are facing today in Armenia is the housing issue including renting costs. Even though Armenia is the eastern gate to Europe, Yerevan continues being one of the expensive cities with regards to the real estate costs among Eastern European countries. To support the housing needs of the families displaced from Syria and seeking protection in Armenia the Housing Consortium has been formed by the UNHCR and the running cost of the consortium is supported by IRIS programme and being coordinated by Armenian Red Cross Society. Housing Consortium consists of the 3 main Syrian Armenian organisations founded in Armenia by Syrian Armenians as well as the organisations working to tackle Syrian Armenians' issues in Armenia such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Armenian Caritas, Armenian General Benevolent Union, Ministry of Diaspora/High Commissioner’s office on Diaspora Affairs etc. and led by Armenian Red Cross Society. The Consortium members aim to expand the partnership in operating rental subsidy schemes, while at the same time promote innovative solutions to longer-term housing needs including social housing programmes.
Since from 2018 the Housing Consortium holds quarterly meetings during which the Consortium member organizations work hard to ensure that all the beneficiaries live life with dignity in apartments. “The Housing Consortium is a very useful and well-functioning system for exchanging information on the main issues that our beneficiaries are facing while renting a house and delivered the needed support to them as quickly as possible” noted Tatevik Bezhanyan, Advocacy Officer of Armenian Caritas at the meeting and added, “I can surely state that this kind of cooperation between so many organizations is extremely exemplary with a successful result.
There is also Housing Selection Committee reviews the applications and selects 100 most vulnerable Syrian Armenian families for the up-coming three months based on special criteria developed by UNHCR ։ To decrease the financial burden of the most vulnerable Syrian Armenian families the IRIS programme under the coordination of the Armenian Red Cross Society supports 100 Syrian Armenian families with monthly rental subsidies of 100 EUR. “To moving Housing Consortium’s activities forward, it is important, that the member organizations are always mindful of their mission to be a nonpartisan advocate for finding solutions to the housing issues of Syrian Armenian families” stated Hasmik Khachatryan, Head of Population Movement Department of ARCS.
In mid-September 2020, the 6th Housing Consortium Meeting has been held during which the Consortium members have updated each other on ongoing projects: housing activities, discussed the new projects and opportunities, etc. “The Housing Consortium’s members represent the best organizations of the sector in Armenia and carving out their own specific approach on ensuring that vulnerable Syrian Armenian families seeking protection in Armenia to have an affordable, housing conditions.” mentioned Tatev Msryan, AGBU Armenia.
Another important activity of the IRIS programme within housing component is development of most feasible housing solutions concept paper. This activity also coordinated by Armenian Red Cross Society in close cooperation with Housing Consortium. in the beginning of 2020 ADWISE Business and Legal Consulting LLC was selected to develop this concept paper and models. During year interviews and research were done by the ADWISE consulting and after each phase detailed report was presented to Armenian Red Cross Society as well as the Housing Consortium. Thus during housing consortium meeting on 15th of September, 2nd phase of the report and research were presented to the Housing consortium members for their feedback. After very tense discussions, feedback from the Consortium members were collected by the consulting which will be taken into consideration during final phase of the research and actual development of the concept and models. It is expected that models will be ready sometime in December, 2020.
IRIS programme appreciate the work and dedication of the Housing Consortium, its member organisations and their representatives to the aims of the consortium. It is obvious that this kind of cooperation and partnership is crucial for ensuring the progress of the activities of IRIS programme as well as the better life of Syrian Armenians in Armenia.
Winners of the 2nd cycle of the Seed Grants are already knownOn the 13th of February 2021 meeting with youth leaders took place in the framework of IRIS programme where the successful projects which will receive financial support were announced13 February 2021
Alleviating Excursion for Older People“Increased Resilience of Syrian Armenians and Host Population” (IRIS) Programme organized a one-day excursion to Saghmosavank and Ohanavank 13th-century Armenian monasteries for lonely older people living in dormitories.27 September 2020
From Idea to a Sustainable Project30 bright Syrian-Armenian and local young people, aged 15 to 30, participated in the Youth capacity development summer Innovation Camps organized within EU funded IRIS Programme.3 September 2020
IRIS Traineeship First Success StoriesMs. Mari Yusuf is one of the first beneficiaries of the traineeship activity of the EU IRIS programme. She has three children, the oldest one will soon be 18 years old and start studies in Gevorgryan Seminary of Armenian Apostolic Church, while the smallest one is six years old. In her family – which was among the first refugees who decided to move to Armenia already in 2006 – no one works besides her. All her relatives went to the EU and USA, but she with her husband decided to escape to Armenia: first they went to Lebanon, and facing discrimination there they decided to come to Armenia.14 April 2020