Twenty complexes in refugee housing estates have critical stability issues and will need to be evacuated immediately, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at a press conference held to brief the media about the next steps of the government’s scheme to help those living in dilapidated refugee housing estates, which was announced in April.
Dubbed Ktizo – meaning build in Greek – the scheme will provide grants to people currently living in condemned buildings and who choose to relocate to newly-constructed buildings, or alternatively subsidies for those choosing to opt out and instead rent in the private sector.
Ioannou reminded that the scheme will first tackle the 43 apartment complexes recently deemed dangerous, saying that they had undergone further checks by civil engineers from technical chamber Etek and the affected municipalities.
The experts confirmed previous findings on the buildings, flagging 20 of them as being in immediate danger of collapse, the minister said, adding that they recommended that the buildings be evacuated as soon as possible.
Of the 20 buildings, six are in Latsia – three in the Ayios Eleftherios estate and three in Apostolos Andreas estate.
In Strovolos, seven are located in the Strovolos III estate, and two more in the Kokkines estate.
Three more are in Platy Aglandjias, another two in Chrysospiliotissa estate in Deftera, and two more at the Ayios Spyridonas estate in Kato Polemidia.
Ioannou said that tenants will soon be informed about next steps by interior ministry officials in collaboration with local authorities.
The interior minister clarified that the remaining 23 apartment complexes have also been deemed too unviable to repair, and the process for their evacuation will begin at a later stage.
“Tenants in these 23 buildings can remain in their apartments, however, they are urged to declare their interest in participating in the scheme from now on, so they can receive a lump sum of the subsidy and pay a contribution according to the beneficiary category they fall in,” he said.
He added that if they wish, they will be able to vacate and hand over their apartment to the department of town planning and become beneficiaries of the rent allowance.
“We are aware that for the implementation of this grand plan, and until the construction of the new apartment buildings, tenants will be inconvenienced by having to leave their flats and find temporary housing in the private sector or with relatives,” he said, adding that his ministry is building collaborations with private companies and NGOs to help alleviate some of this stress.
More specifically, he said they are working on an arrangement to provide storage space to those participating in the scheme, and moving help for elderly, disabled or bedbound tenants.
“This plan is a studied and viable plan that will provide a definitive solution to this great issue,” Ioannou said.
“Participation is certainly in the beneficiaries’ interest, and that of their children’s, since they will acquire a new apartment of great value, in areas that know gradual development and in which they will live safely for decades to come,” he added.
“I want to assure once again that for the government, the safety of the tenants in these buildings, and of course dignified living conditions, are a priority,” he finally said.