Collapsing Dormitory: Residents Periodically Injured While Waiting to be Rehoused
Around 250 people live in Yerevan, Artsakh 4th Lane, 10th building. It’s a dormitory that, according to the residents, is about to collapse.
Hripsimeh Hovsepyan and her four children live here. Her 10-year-old daughter, Elen, says that she walks around the house with an umbrella when it rains, and even putting all the pots and pans in the house to catch the dripping rainwater doesn’t cover the whole space, so they borrow some pots from the neighbors.
"Don’t touch the walls, the electricity might shock you," Elen warns us.
Hripsimeh confirms her words. The apartment got completely wet when it rained a few days ago, so they don’t switch on the oven now, in order not to breathe moisture.
A few days ago, Hripsimeh and her son Artur, two months shy of his second birthday, were rescued by their neighbors. She was hanging the laundry on the balcony, when a part of the floor crushed, and they fell off, clutching the banister. Luckily, the neighbors heard her scream and came to their rescue.
The carpet is still wet; the walls are humid. Clothes in the wardrobe are damp. Hripsimeh works - she cleans houses - she says she doesn’t have another choice. Her 2-year-old daughter, Hasmik, is ill. They often visit the hospital. Hripsimeh says the child has a heart disease, and the moisture of the apartment affects her health.
The long corridors of the dormitory are dark and damp. The access to a door on the fourth floor is closed with tape. The neighbors say four days ago the balcony collapsed, and some people from the Ministry of Emergency Situations came and closed the entrance.
Hetq visited the same building in January this year, and now we see the traces that rainy weather has left in the building.
Galina Mikayelyan's apartment looks like a wreck. There is a bowl in the living room. Though it isn’t raining today, the ceiling drips. Neighbors say Galina is no longer able to stay at home. When it’s sunny, she sleeps in the corridor, and she sleeps at the neighbor's' apartment when it rains.
Resident Karineh Abrahamyan (photo) says that for several months now they are afraid to touch the electric wires. The moisture doesn’t go away; the sockets are dangerous. Karineh says that if she needs to mix the soup with a spoon, she has to switch off the oven first.
Tagouhi Yengibaryan (bottom photo) says that she was hit by electricity when taking clothes out of the washing machine. They are already afraid to turn on the light and electrical appliances. Two months ago, she fell down on the balcony and broke her leg. The police came only to record the fact. The doctors say the surgery would cost 300,000 drams.
Marietta Hovhannisyan shows the ceiling of the bedroom, from where a large stone fell a few days ago. She says all the apartments in the building are in the same condition. On November 9, Marietta called Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations Vrezh Gabrielyan to ask for a tent, to house the children in the yard. On the same day, ministry of emergency situations, district administration and municipality representatives visited the building.
Afterwards, Deputy Mayor Vahe Nikoyan met with the residents. He promised that they would be resettled soon.
Nikoyan said that they had some savings in the housing fund in 2014, and thus could accommodate the residents in several other buildings. However, there is a court dispute over the dormitory's 16 apartments to be resolved first.
Marietta Hovhannisyan has been serving as the building’s representative since June of this year. She says that the former rep, Harutyun Haroyan, has illegally privatized sixteen apartments. The resettlement can only be made after a court decision regarding these sixteen apartments.
"The municipality filed the suit. On October 25, the first hearing was held at the Court of Appeals,” says Marietta.
The residents have filed petitions addressed to the president, the minister of justice, the prosecutor general, asking them to resolve the case before November 25, so that they can be rehoused by the end of the year.
"The building collapses day by day. If there is a victim here, it will be on their conscience," adds Marietta.
Photos: Saro Baghdasaryan