Discussion of homes for care-leavers in Russia
What do experts think about orphan children not being provided with their own housing?
The issue of housing provision for child orphans has been raised by the authorities and the public on multiple occasions. Currently in Russia there are more than 250 thousand orphans waiting on housing. The topic was touched upon not so long ago in the State Duma. During a meeting of the Prime Minister, Dmitri Medvedev, with members of the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), the Deputy from the Primorsky Krai, Aleksey Korinenko, asked the Prime Minister how the new government plans to solve the problem of giving flats to orphans.
Medvedev answered that it is in principle essential to look again at the model of guaranteeing orphans accommodation. “It is, of course, very noble that we promise housing ownership to all orphans. But what happens beyond that?
The house is sold, the money gets spent on drink and all kinds of scammers start to circle around them.
And we are all searching for money for these unfortunate guys, who aren’t socially adapted”, Medvedev said.
The Prime Minister suggested rejecting the scheme of providing houses to own. “We need to provide accommodation which would stay in the state housing fund. It is not a very quick process, but at least we would not lose it,” the Premier announced.
Currently the process of providing accommodation to child orphans in Russia looks like this: for the first few years, the flat remains in social rent and then the young person can get it to own.
“In Moscow, this practice worked out. Leavers of the system are given a one-bedroom flat and they live in it. If they pay the bills, they then own it after five years. Whilst this works well in Moscow and its oblasts, in different regions they have been moved to old barracks, and that still continues”, the director of “Detskoi derevni SOS” in Tomilino, Anatoly Vasilyev said.
But often, the child, having only just left the confines of a children’s home and not having well-developed social skills, falls victim to fraudsters.
“Fraudsters often negotiate with the child and help them to rent out the flat, taking the money for themselves and leaving the child only a small percentage. Then often after 5 years they have taken the flat away from them by other means: there is a huge number of scams”, member of the Commission of the Russian Public Chamber for Supporting Family, Motherhood and Childhood, Elena Alshanskaya, said.
According to Elena Alshanskaya, in the past few years the number of cases has increased where the parents themselves give up teenage children, in order to put them in line for a flat. “It does happen that people are living in tough conditions and they do not have any chance of owning a flat, and they see it as their only solution – to give away the child to a children’s home, so that in the future they can receive a flat from the state,” Alshanskaya explained.
In such cases, in the expert’s opinion, it is worth implementing preventative measures and trying to avoid such situations. “One of the solutions to the problem may be to transfer the flat into social trust forever, not just for five years, or try to understand the situation of the child’s birth family. It does happen that a child lives in a children’s home not because the parents treat them cruelly, but because the family’s house is too dilapidated.
A far more effective solution would be to improve the family’s living conditions, rather than allowing children to end up in children’s homes and then to guarantee them all flats.
Indeed, it is far simpler to improve the living conditions of one family with five children, than to later give five flats to children’s home leavers”, Alshanskaya is sure.
In the opinion of Anatoly Vasilyev, you cannot deprive child orphans of the possibility of owning their own home because of cases of fraud. The state should develop a system which guarantees the safety of the children and their flats.
“They are once again putting conditions on particular people. Why do they not have the right to get to own their own flat? Just because that someone, somewhere is getting together and renting flats. These are individual cases, you cannot build a system from them,” Vasilyev asserted.
The experts recognise that the current system of providing housing to child orphans is ineffective, requires careful work and the involvement of local authorities. All of this is doubly complicated however, since similar property provision is not provided anywhere else in the world.