Tartous: Will Phase Two of Youth Housing See the Light of Day?

The General Housing Establishment (GHE) has announced the preparation and delivery of the first round of homes in Tartous’s Youth Housing Project, a full 15 years after the project launched.

The GHE, part of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, launched the youth housing project across Syria in accordance with Prime Minister Decree No. 1940 for 2002. The project aimed to secure 65,000 small housing units for young Syrians in all cities. Those who wished to sign up for the housing had to comply with just one condition: that they not own another house already recorded in the real estate registry.

The youth housing project was launched successively in various governorates across Syria and was to be completed in two implementation stages in each region. Those who signed up for housing in the first phase would receive it five years after the date of subscription. Phase two recipients would receive their housing after seven years.

The project was launched in Tartous in 2005, and was set to be completed in two phases. But it was not until October 2020—that is, ten years late—that the GHE announced that it had completed and handed over the first round of housing, which included just 400 apartments.

The first phase of the project was implemented on land in the Al-Bassel Suburb area near the Al-Ahlam Beach south of Tartous city. The GHE purchased the 3.8-hectare property in 2006 from its main owner, the Social Military Establishment (SME).

Meanwhile, preparations for phase two, which is set to include about 2,400 apartments, have yet to be completed. The GHE announced in July 2020 that it had signed a contract with other official institutions to build five housing blocks in the Sheikh Saad complex north of Tartous city, although the location for the rest of phase two is still under study.

Delays with the second phase are due partly to problems with expropriating the land for the housing units. The Tartous City Council acquired 45 hectares of agricultural land south of the villages of Abu Afseh and Al-Anabiyeh, within the city limits but outside its zoning plans.

However, residents, as well as the General Farmers Union, rejected the expropriation decision amid administrative and financial disputes between the GHE and the Tartous City Council over project implementation, responsibilities, and shares. All this led to a suspension of the expropriation in 2016.

In the search for alternative land to construct phase two of the project, the GHE chose properties in the Sheikh Saad complex that had been expropriated in 2010 for public, cooperative and savings housing projects. The total area expropriated is 27 hectares, of which 35 plots were set aside for youth housing without specifying its area. In 2017, the former prime minister laid the foundation stone for the second phase of the project, for which construction remains stalled.