“The housing fund is a challenge for Liepāja not for the first year, but on the part of the City Council we are actively thinking about how to address this issue. What we're glad about is that every year several hundred people move to Liepaja. The housing wishes vary, some are ready to renovate, some want new, but there are virtually no new project apartments,” Liepāja City Council Vice-President Salvis Roga (Latvian Association of Regions) outlined the situation.
Currently, there are hopes that apartment building projects will develop in Liepāja.
“Liepāja has co-ordinated local planning for one huge new building block, in the southwest district, where apartment buildings will be. What merchants, and how quickly they will build, we'll see that soon. The developer has to enter into a contract of intent with the local authority, then go further the “Altum” approval route,” Roga said.
One solution could also be the detached house construction sector. A pilot project is currently ongoing on Ganību Street, which was implemented by the local Liepaja company LLC VIA – S Houses. The company has twenty years of experience building modular homes, which in 95% of cases are exported to Scandinavian countries, and now also embraces the German market. Now they are ready to test their knowledge in Liepāja as a pilot project version. A residential house with a yard and fence has been built.
Despite working in Scandinavia for years, in Liepāja such a private residential house was built for the first time and is like a pilot project to understand the demand for the offer.
Meanwhile Sandra Eglīte, public relations manager of the financial institution Altum, explained to Latvian Radio that two projects have been approved in Latvia for the construction of low-rent housing – Jelgava and Tukums – and both are currently in the process of contracting with Altum. Several more projects submitted are in the evaluation phase.
The affordable housing program criteria also lay down requirements for dwellings to be built, such as rental homes to be near zero energy buildings, apartments to be full interior trim, built-in kitchen and plumbing, and apartments to have an average area of 52 square meters. Rents in these apartments are set at up to €5 per square meter and can be increased annually in line with inflation levels. Income criteria for households eligible for housing rent have also been set.
This is the first affordable housing program of its kind in Latvia and it is being improved all the time to meet the current market situation. Overall, interest in the program comes from all over Latvia, both from developers and local governments.