The project was suspended in 2008 because of a financial scandal when violations in the purchase contracts were discovered. According to media reports, 25 apartments were not only unfit for living, but were sold to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs at prices much higher than those existing on the market.
Anna Mnatsakanyan, head of the Armenian Relief Society Yerevan office (this organization provides social-psychological, legal and vocational training to orphanage graduates until their becoming of age), confirms that some 20 apartments were semi-basement and had unbearable living conditions. (See Double Deprived: “High ranked”corruption affects orphans’ housing). Ghazaryan, however, denies the purchase of such apartments, insisting that there are no such formulations in the documents.
To ArmeniaNow’s question on who has been punished for the misappropriations, Ghazaryan said that the two organizations responsible for the implementation of the housing program were held accountable. She gave assurances that the damage to the budget has been compensated.
Mnatsakanyan says the housing issue of the 250 graduates on the waiting list has to be solved as soon as possible, as their number keeps growing by 25-30 every year. According to her, there is a lot to be done to assist the young people with employment, since employers are prejudiced and unwilling to hire them out of some misguided stereotypes. She says that, in fact, a majority of orphanage graduates have vocational education, since the state has created favorable conditions for their training.
“Some 30 percent of orphanage graduates have higher education, and the rest are skilled in various crafts,” says Mnatsakanyan.