Housing for large families

There is no-one to
solve the housing problems faced by large families.

The press office of
Pavel Astakhov has announced that in December 2011 the Patriarch of Moscow and
Russia Kirill passed the Ombudsman for Children’s Rights appeals for help from
thirteen large families who have been left homeless. The families first
appealed to the Patriarch. According to him many of them lost their homes
“because of their own mistakes” or were victims of the collapse of the USSR.
The Patriarch expressed sympathy for the families’ plight and suggested “joint
cooperation to solve the problem.”

In order to understand
the situation, Mr Astakhov sent letters to the Moscow and regional authorities,
the Department of Housing
, the
Moscow Department of Social Protection, and the Children’s Ombudsmen in the
different regions. At the beginning of 2012 Mr Astakhov and the Patriarch
discussed the results of their joint efforts. The problem of homeless large
families was still not solved.

Vasili Rulinski, press
secretary of the Synod Department for Church Charity and Social Services in the
Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), who was interviewed by a reporter from the Agency
for Social Information said “according to the information I have, none of the
families have received any help in improving their living conditions.”

One of the families is
the Astapenkos who have lived in Moscow for twenty years. Mr Rulinski noted
that “in his letter to the Patriarch Pavel Astakhov refers to the Moscow
authorities, who maintain that they have no legal obligation to house the
family.” To join the housing waiting list a person must have been living in the
capital for ten years. Despite the fact that six children were born in Moscow
and attended school there, the family is told that there is no evidence they
have been living in Moscow for the last ten years. According to Mr Rulinski the
problem arose because of the unclear status of the family – out of all the
family members, only the father is registered in Moscow. As a result the
Astapenkos cannot join the housing waiting list. Mr Rulinski has suggested
reviewing the requirements for assigning housing to such families.     

Mr Rulinski is certain
that large families need help because they face many problems with being
housed. He suggests offering them social housing. He noted that the ROC gives
financial help to their parishioners with large families and organises stays in
holiday camps for them. However, he pointed out that “the Orthodox Church does
not help large families to buy flats.” Marina Vasileva, founder of the charity
Mercy’ thinks that the problems of
homeless large families should be solved at the federal government level.
According to Ms Vasileva the families who have appealed to the Patriarch for
help were registered, but not in Moscow, therefore the city authorities are not
prepared to solve their housing problems. Ms Vasileva says “if the capital’s
authorities help large families, then many will move to the capital.” In her
opinion the way to solve the housing problems faced by large families who have
found themselves in difficulties, is to offer them communal housing. However,
Vasileva emphasised that it is also important to give families further help so
they can make a life for themselves; “adults need to work and children need to
go to school.” 

In the past, experts
in the Public Chamber have called on the authorities to help large families who
do not have a permanent address and are not registered in their city of
residence. On 29 November 2011 the Public Chamber Commission on Social Issues
debated the problems of homeless large families and prepared recommendations
for the Russian government.


Translated by Lina Numan

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