Housing vouchers for Russian orphans: a good idea?
The Ministry of Education publishes a bill to give orphans housing vouchers
The bill is currently being assessed by experts in anti-corruption measures.
The Russian Ministry of Education has published a federal bill giving orphaned children a voucher entitling them to accommodation paid for by the regional authorities.
Payments for purchasing the housing are expected to reach approximately 1,487,300 roubles, according to the explanatory notes. The figure is calculated based on the average price of a square metre’s accommodation in the regions (45,068 roubles) and the ‘average living space for one person living alone’ (33 square metres).
The regions have been promised annual subsidies from the centre totalling 7,705 million roubles in the years 2020, 2021 and 2022.
There are certain restrictions contained in the bill. Orphans will not be able to live in government-funded accommodation together with parents who have forfeited their parental rights or have been found guilty in a criminal court of long-term alcohol or drug abuse.
The risks for orphans
Svetlana Belkova, who works for the charity The Arithmetic of Kindness liaising with government authorities explained to the Agency for Social Information her concerns about the new law. She believes it could lead to major abuses of orphans’ rights in relation to housing: children who have grown up in children’s homes up to the age of 18 will never have dealt with housing issues before and they are very likely to fall prey to fraudsters.
Belkova added, ‘Issuing these vouchers to children who have been in care is putting them in danger, not protecting them.’ She noted that the Russian Government had previously looked into the idea of issuing housing vouchers to orphans in the summer of 2018 and had decided not to proceed with it.