Liepāja's eagerness to renovate buildings simmers down

Liepaja has so far been the leader in renovating apartment buildings with European Union (EU) co-financing. The next support program is now available from 2022 to 2026, but interest has shrunk significantly, Latvian Radio reported on January 15.

80 apartment buildings have been renovated so far by the “Liepāja House Manager”, 50 have been arranged, another 100 are left. Currently, residents of only two houses have shown real interest in the new program of EU co-financing to improve the energy efficiency of houses. Artis Rimma, a Member of the board of directors of Liepaja House Manager, doubted that this program would be able to move rapidly.

This time the rules of the game are not favorable and the Ministry of Economics has been warned about this in advance.

“Each building has to take 100% credit to implement its energy efficiency measures, then, 12 months after the project is implemented, Altum assesses whether the results have been achieved. Very likely, if any planned interest is not achieved, this funding will not be granted. There is a very risky and not very convincing aspect. This is explained to residents, and they are not very keen to agree to such rules,“  said Rimma.

The reasons why there is less interest in this EU support program are different, said Ieva Vērzemniece, head of the department of energy efficiency programs at Altum.

“In the previous program, 50% of the total costs of the project could be received. The amount of aid in this program is 49%, but excluding VAT, thus the total amount received after the implementation of the project is approximately 40% of the total costs of the project,” Vērzemniece noted.

The program has been open for a year, from December 2022. The total amount of aid is more than EUR 50 million. It is planned that approximately 150 apartment buildings in Latvia could receive support.

“We have set aside support for 35 apartment buildings in Latvia, for an amount of more than EUR 11 million. About one-fifth of the funding is set aside, but the remaining funding is available and waiting for project applications,“ the Altum spokeswoman said.

Deputy Executive Director of Liepāja State City Council Mārtiņš Tīdens also confirmed that the situation is not promising. Additional solutions need to be urgently sought in Latvia to sort out apartment buildings, support for residents is insufficient, moreover, at a time when new houses are being built little, believes Tīdens. According to him, a special housing fund needs to be created in Latvia, where the state has to find the necessary funding.

“Estonians have announced loudly - one invested euro in restoring housing brings another euro to the economy. This means that by doing this homework, setting up a housing fund, and introducing the program, it's a great investment and an opportunity to make €12 billion for the country. True, it's going to take 20 years because you can't do it quicker physically,” Tīdens said.

He emphasized that currently, only about 8% of Latvian apartment buildings are in good condition, but the technical condition of unrenovated houses continues to deteriorate.

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