€25 million worth of grant funding has been made available to renovate apartment blocks in Estonia's most easterly region Ida-Viru County. In the past, apartment associations have shown little interest in similar schemes.
More than 2,000 apartment blocks need renovation and 400 of those are in the border city of Narva. Until now, residents have seen work, such as installing insulation, as too expensive.
Cheap heating provided by nearby power plants has also kept demand low.
It is hoped the new funding – a record amount – will now make apartment associations reconsider.
"These two rounds, totaling €25 million for Ida-Viru County, are unprecedentedly large. This kind of concentrated renovation funding for Ida-Viru County has never been seen before in the country. People are practically getting a new home. Why not take advantage of this opportunity now?" said Veronika Valk-Siska, head of housing policy at the Ministry of Climate.
The money comes from the European Union, €10 million from the coronavirus recovery fund and €15 million from the Just Transition Fund. Between 40-70 percent of costs will be covered depending on the level of renovation.
"We would like to have 20-25 blocks across Ida-Viru County, which we could later proudly show off," said Ivan Sergejev, Just transition process coordinator at the Ministry of Finance.
Sergejev specifically highlighted renovating khrushchevkas, apartment blocks built en mass across the Soviet Union after World War II during Premier Nikita Khrushchev to solve housing shortages. The buildings are notoriously energy inefficient, but an EU-funded project in Tartu has sought to solve the problem.
An information day was held in Narva to encourage applications. It was said such favorable conditions will likely never be on offer again. An additional argument is the heating price, which has almost doubled in Narva in recent years.
"Gradually people are starting to realize that the housing stock is over 50 years old and if you do not put anything into an old building, nothing good will come of it," said Alexander Lesonen, chairman of an apartment association in the city.
The application rounds will open in January and next summer.
Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera