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January 21, 2013
Home for Homeless: Yerevan Temporary Shelters Give Chance to Survive
By Ani Gabrielyan
JNews intern
Photo source:
Temprorary Shelter in Yerevan

50-year-old Taron humped, with an uncared beard and big eyes hardly seen because of long hair stands in front of subway doors of Shengavit district trying to get warm. He has not a shelter and survives in the streets.

"I am here, because I am not lucky enough to have good children," says Taron.

The only thing Taron said about his appearing in the streets is that no one from his relatives have had time or place to help him. He said nothing else about his family.

"I need some warm place for winter, but policemen never let me stay here".

He always wears a long coat and a hat. This helps him especially in winter. Taron is seen in the subway station only in the mornings. Then, according to witnesses, he runs away from the police. Gohar Ghazaryan, who works in the market near this subway station, says that Taron comes back when police is not near.

"He always has 2 bags with him: one for food, the other for clothes. He also begs for money or finds something in the bins," says Gohar.

But the streets are not the only place Taron has been recently. He has been in a homeless shelter for a month and then left it. Why, he didn't say.

60 homeless people, like Taron, have a chance to leave Yerevan streets for a comfortable and safe place, but only for 2 months. There is a temporary accommodation for the homeless to somehow solve their social problem.

In January 2006 near the retirement home No.1 a temporary shelter for homeless people was built by the Municipality of Yerevan in a separate building. It was initially scheduled for 30 people, then after 2 years it was accommodated for 50 and from January 2009 for 60 people. This is the maximum opportunity the building has. The shelter is for homeless citizens above 18.

"Here we have people who are in a difficult situation, who live in the streets, who need our help," says Hayk Poghosyan, manager of the shelter and adds that they don't pursue them to come, they just suggest: "We give them 3-time-meal per day, provide with laundry, personal hygiene products, if necessary, clothing and shoes."

According to Poghosyan they also receive social, psychological, medical and legal assistance. During two months specialists try to help homeless citizens to solve their social problems, to find the social contacts they have lost, to obtain identification documents, to organize specialized medical care and to find a job.

"We should solve their problems in 2 months," says Anahit Gevorgyan, head of the shelter department of the elderly. "If we don't, they return and we try it again. We manage to place some of them in retirement home, some are even married now.

From 2006 about 80 homeless people have received stationary medical care, 20 have returned home, nearly 80 have been taken to retirement home for permanent inhabitance, jobs have been found for nearly 25 of them and even 2 couples have got married.

"We accommodated nearly 400 people here during a year," says Anahit Gevorgyan, "but there are many who have been here 4 or even more times."

After 60 days the same person can come and ask for a shelter again. They never reject those who come back.

But there are such homeless, who can't live here. The employees of the department say that in some cases the homeless living in the streets refuse to go to a temporary shelter because they prefer to beg money and not to lose their freedom since the shelter has a strict regime.

"If we give them a place to sleep, eat, live, they should learn some discipline," says Anahit.

The shelter's annual budget is approximately 59 million drams, 1340 drams out of which is spent on daily food for each person. According to Anahit Gevorgyan there are about 70 homeless in Yerevan. She mentions that recently one homeless died at the shelter of Vardashen district, the second shelter in Yerevan.

In Armenia there are only 2 temporary accommodations for homeless people above 18. Nearly 110 homeless can live there. Now there are 67 homeless living in retirement home No.1. In the rooms where 7-8 beds can be placed, 2 or three more have been added to give them a little chance to survive.  


Ani Gabrielyan studies for master degree at the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Managment of Georgian Institute of Public Affairs


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