Housing for young people who leave children??‚??s homes
This issue was raised by the Director of the Department of State Policy in Education, Further Education and Social Protection of Children in the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, Alina Levitskaya, at an all-Russian conference on the protection of the rights of young people who have grown up in children’s homes. She notled that in 2009 106,717 children were recorded as being in children’s homes (7.7% fewer than in 2008); and 90,742 children were in foster families (20% fewer than in 2008). Thus in 2009, regional data banks recorded a total of 140,344 children – of whom 113,000 were living in children’s homes and 27,000 in educational establishments, 7.5% fewer than in 2008.
Ms Levitskaya identified as one of the most serious problems the violation of the right to housing for young people who have being brought up in children’s homes and boarding schools. Housing for them is a very serious problem. She said there is currently no system for providing them with accommodation. The legislation in most regions provides only for accommodation on the basis of a lease. This means accommodation on the private market or social housing. A draft law has been drawn up to amend the federal law on supplementary guarantees for social support for orphans and children without parental support, which envisage for example the creation of specific housing fund for them. The fund will only provide accommodation by a direct lease with orphans and children without support. The amendments also cover their access to the queue for social housing list, and what kind of accommodation they should receive (houses and apartments, not rooms). There will also be changes in the rules on what happens when they are unable to return to their previous homes, for reasons of sanitary or other standards, or because they would be living with people with whom it is inappropriate for a young person to live. The legislation includes the obligation to allow the young person to stay in the home until s/he becomes an adult. The amendments were agreed between federal and regional local government authorities and are due for their second reading. Levitskaya added that from 2011 the Russian government will increase its subsidies to the regions for housing for orphans and children in care. These subsidies will rise from 1.1 bn to 6.6 bn roubles, enabling the local authorities to provide such young people with accommodation when they leave the home or boarding school, rather than having them join the waiting list for housing. This will ensure that the problem is solved within 5-6 years.
ASI was informed by an advisor to senator Zinaida Dragunkina, Alexei Golovan, director of the charity “Cooperation in Destiny” and Presidential Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, that the new legislation will provide for the same rights to housing all over Russia as have existed in Moscow for the past 10 years. At present in some regions provision of housing varies according to local finances and circumstances. Provision of homes based on direct leases will ensure that such housing is not privatised, sold or exchanged. If after 5 years the young person has not become capable of providing for her/himself, the lease will be extended. If the person has behaved in a responsible way, the lease can be changed into one for regular social housing. In some regions such housing is immediately provided on this basis or given to the person as their own property. The Moscow system is also used in Tatarstan. Mr Golovan said that increasing the subsidies for such housing will reduce waiting lists for housing and ensure it is provided as soon as the person leaves the home, as happens already in Moscow. Regions will be allowed to use the subsidies as they prefer – for example to buy flats for the young people. At present, 75,000 people from children’s homes are waiting for housing.