The reason for the mass homelessness in Russia - the collapse of the USSR
The roots of the modern problem of the homeless population of Russia lie in the economic and social catastrophe that followed the collapse of the Soviet state. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, millions of people suddenly lost the state, which, for all controversial moments, still cared about the welfare of its citizens and tirelessly improved it. It is enough to pay attention to the pace of housing construction during the Soviet era, especially during the 1960-1980-s. In the post-Soviet space, there was an escalation of numerous armed conflicts on interethnic grounds, and the collapse of industry and rising prices led to a massive impoverishment of the population. Despite the fact that many Russians were able to freely do business, grow rich and provide themselves with a high standard of living, for the majority of the country's population the destruction of the Soviet system of social guarantees, universal employment and housing provided very negative consequences. Homelessness, in many ways, is a product of the post-Soviet era. Of course, persons without a certain place of residence were in Soviet times, however, homelessness became a widespread phenomenon only after the collapse of the USSR. Firstly, this was due to the impoverishment of millions of Russian citizens who lost regular earnings in bankrupt and “embarked” industrial enterprises. Marginalization and lumpenization of millions of Russians followed the loss of work and deepening the sense of hopelessness and loss. People began to drink too much, who are younger - degraded from drug use. Accordingly, the black realtors, gangsters, or "good" relatives housed or “squeezed out” housing, after which people remained on the street as homeless. Secondly, mass homelessness was also a consequence of armed conflicts in the post-Soviet space, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of people turned into refugees and internally displaced persons, instantly losing everything they had been making for decades. Thirdly, the marginalization and lumpenization of the population affected the growth in the number of street children, and the “social bankruptcy” of the state in 1990-s - to provide housing for graduates of orphanages, many of which also filled the ranks of the homeless. Finally, we should not forget about the consequences of abandoning the prevention of vagrancy - after the abolition of articles for parasitism and vagrancy, many people who are prone to an asocial lifestyle, chose to become homeless voluntarily. Some of them have apartments and houses, but they themselves have chosen the path of station and market beggars, vagrants, refusing to work and not wanting to be treated for alcohol or drug addiction.
In the middle of 1990's. The number of homeless people in the Russian Federation, according to some sources, has exceeded 4 million. Basically, these were unemployed men who left their families and left in search of work in other cities, or people who lost their homes due to alcohol and drug addiction or the machinations of “black realtors” and organized crime groups. Despite the fact that homeless people, especially in the Russian climate, have always had a very high mortality rate, the “army” of homeless people in the 1990s. steadily replenished, as more and more new people became victims of criminal actions aimed at removing housing, and also sold housing and remained on the street, having spent the money. Finally, refugees from “hot spots” and former post-Soviet republics, which did not favor the Russian-speaking population, filled up the ranks of the homeless. A whole social stratum of citizens without a certain place of residence and certain occupations was formed, which, like a swamp, absorbed more and more Russians of various ages and different social statuses in the past. The famous philosopher Sergey Kara-Murza emphasized that in post-Soviet Russia “a“ social bottom ”was formed, making up about 10% of the urban population or 11 million people. Its structure includes beggars, homeless, street children. Most of the poor and homeless have secondary and secondary special education, and 6% - higher. This "bottom" did not happen anywhere in the whole history of humanity ”(Sergey Kara-Murza. All or nothing // http://newsland.com/news/detail/). Of course, there are homeless people in India and Bangladesh, in Latin American and African countries, and even in Europe, which the “Westerners” are trying to give us as the ideal of social well-being. But nowhere is the phenomenon of mass homelessness of previously socially organized people, with higher or secondary vocational education, possessing social status and security on the part of society and the state. The presence of such specific homelessness is an exceptional “merit” of the economic policy pursued in the first half of the 1990s. and led to the destruction of the social gains of the Soviet era. In fact, the homelessness of a part of the country's population was the product of neoliberal reforms carried out by short-sighted policies of the first half of 1990, and the consequences of this policy, despite subsequent attempts to correct the socio-economic situation in the country in 2000, were not overcome. Not to mention that the millions of people who became 1990-ies. homeless, long dead and their death is a direct consequence of their impoverishment and lumpenization.
In the 1990-e years, the notion of "black realtors" entered the lexicon of Russians. It implied dishonest brokers working in real estate and preferring to select apartments fraudulently or by force. The victims of “black realtors”, at best, remained in much worse and cheaper housing, including in rural areas or depressed localities, where housing is much cheaper. In a worse version, the victims of “black realtors” just filled up the ranks of the homeless, being left without shelter, and without the means to purchase new housing, even if of worse quality. Finally, gangs of “black realtors” acted on the territory of Russia, who simply preferred to kill their victims in order not to pay them even symbolic sums for the housing they took and did not bear responsibility for fraud in case of identification. Most often, the victims of “black realtors” were representatives of socially unprotected segments of the population - lonely pensioners and people with disabilities, people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction, orphans, people with limited ability and incapacitated people who were easier to take away an apartment by fraud and who would not be warned against the conclusion of the transaction, and in the worst case - and would not have missed when the disappearance. The criminal history of Russia 1990-x - 2000-x. knows the examples of dozens of gangs of "black realtors" who preferred to solve the issue of seizing someone else's real estate through the killing of homeowners.
Main categories of homeless
The percentage of homeless in modern Russian society remains chronically high. Moreover, there are several categories of homeless Russians, among which only “homeless” - representatives of the social bottom are outwardly striking and are a subject for discussion. In fact, the problem of homelessness is much broader and does not affect only the homeless. The first category of homeless Russians is “social bottom”. These are vagrants, beggars, homeless people who may have no housing at all or have no documents, and also voluntarily lead a “street” lifestyle. The number of "social bottom" in Russia goes to millions. These people are outside of society, they are integrated into the "shadow world" with its criminal relationships, often becoming both objects and subjects of crime. The second category of homeless Russians are citizens who, for whatever reason, do not have their own housing, but lead a social lifestyle. These include a fairly large percentage of Russians, for family or other reasons, who remain “on the street” and live in rented accommodation. At the same time, Russians who rent housing can have a decent job, a good income, but in the event of a force majeure situation, such a person actually remains on the street - after becoming ill, having become disabled, and so on, he may lose the opportunity to pay for rented housing. The third category of homeless Russians is people who do not have their own housing, but live in “state institutions” - prisons, orphanages and boarding schools, homes for the disabled and the elderly, mental hospitals, and so on. It is also a very large and unstable contingent, whose representatives periodically join the ranks of the first category of homeless people - the homeless and the vagabonds. As soon as the homeless from the third category go beyond the "state" institutions, they turn into vagrants, because they do not have their own housing and, most likely, do not even have the opportunity to rent decent housing.
The fourth category of homeless people are refugees and displaced people from “hot spots” and unstable regions both in the country and abroad. Among them are citizens of Russia, and foreign citizens, and stateless persons. Many armed conflicts that occurred in the post-Soviet space have turned the lives of hundreds of thousands of people into hell, depriving them of their homes and livelihoods. Some families of refugees and IDPs were able to adapt to life in a new place and even improve their financial situation compared to the “past life” in a country or region of exodus. However, a significant proportion of refugees remain in distress. In 2014-2015 the ranks of refugees began to be replenished by the inhabitants of Donbass, fleeing from the bloody war. Victims of the Kiev regime's aggression flooded Russian cities and rural settlements. While the federal and regional authorities are engaged in their placement, however, it is not known what will await refugees and immigrants from the Donbass in the future. The fifth category of homeless - migrant workers. These are citizens of other countries who find themselves on the territory of Russia and either have lost their jobs and the possibility of renting housing, and at the same time returning to their homeland, or have initially arrived to search for temporary and easy earnings. Most of the homeless migrant workers are illegal migrants who, by virtue of their social status, closely align with the first category of Russian homeless people - representatives of the “social bottom”. Finally, there is a category of citizens, which formally is not homeless, but in fact does not have its own decent housing. These are people whose housing is in emergency or dilapidated state, preventing them from living in it. This category also includes citizens who have a residence permit and even property in remote villages and villages, but left in search of work in large and medium-sized cities and even in regional centers. It is hardly possible to call a person whose residence is in a wooden shed in an extinct village, with its own housing. Theoretically, the housing seems to be there, but in practice this person is homeless.
"Shanghai" and "camps"
Until now, in many Russian cities there are settlements of self-construction, that is, built without permits. Of course, the inhabitants of these villages do not have documents for their housing and formally, if they do not have a residence permit and their own housing elsewhere, they are considered homeless. Such villages - “Shanghai” and “Nahalovka” - are known throughout the country, from Rostov-on-Don to Irkutsk. Often, such villages become the epicenters of asocial and antisocial behavior, including the trade in counterfeit alcohol and narcotic substances. Of course, that they represent a hotbed of criminals and a danger to those communities within which they are located. However, the solution of the problems of such settlements self-regulation is not possible without a general solution to the problem of homelessness. Where to put people who have lived in similar villages for more than a decade, and maybe for several generations? Often, similar villages are created by citizens of other states. Known tent camps and villages of temporary huts, built by representatives of nomadic Roma groups. As a rule, Roma - citizens of other countries - immigrants from Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, roam in Russia. Despite the fact that they are located on the territory of the Russian Federation, they do not have official status. Often they do not even have passports, not to mention the residence permit at the place of residence and the residence itself. However, here we are dealing with an atypical manifestation of homelessness - although from the official point of view they are homeless, but in reality they simply lead a way of life that has been traditional for these ethnic groups for centuries. Attempts to make some Gypsy groups settled several times during the Soviet era and were even successful, however, numerous political and economic problems that plagued the post-Soviet republics and the countries of the former socialist camp in Eastern Europe did not leave yesterday’s sedentary Gypsies — workers and collective farmers — other options than to return to the traditional nomadic way of life.
The first Gypsy camps appeared in Russia in the time of Peter I. At present, according to the modern Gypsy ethnos researcher N. Bessonov, a number of Gypsy ethnic groups live in Russia, many of which are quite separate from each other. Some of the Gypsies have long been settled and do not lead a nomadic way of life; others, on the contrary, adhere to old traditions - most often, compulsorily. Among those groups of Roma, which are most likely to be found among those wandering, it is necessary to name, first of all, Magyars. Madyar is a group of Hungarian Gypsies that appeared in the Soviet Union after Transcarpathia, which belonged to Hungary, and even earlier to Czechoslovakia and Austria-Hungary, became part of the USSR. For centuries, the Magyars were sedentary, during which time they were Christianized and subject to strong assimilation. Modern Magyars speak Hungarian and profess Catholicism or Calvinism, while maintaining the characteristic type of appearance. Magyar women were not engaged in divination, and men, as a rule, worked as artisans or musicians. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a rapid impoverishment of the population of Ukraine began, on the territory of which Hungarian gypsies lived. Transcarpathian region, and so the former remote and backward region, experienced very big socio-economic problems. Thousands of people were left without means of subsistence, and first of all the crisis hit Magyars, most of which were at the bottom of the social hierarchy and did not have qualifications and education. The Magyars who worked in the factories of Transcarpathia lost their jobs after the enterprises stopped and were forced to migrate to more prosperous regions of Ukraine and to Russia - in search of work. However, few managed to find work - a significant part of the Magyars formed camps that move across the territory of Russia. Women and children are begging, men are looking for the work of helpers, diggers, collecting scrap metal.
Another large group of Roma that appeared in the 1990-s in Russia is “mughat”, or “lyuli”. These are Central Asian Gypsies, people from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, professing Islam and well remembered by the traditional Central Asian clothing, which is worn by the entire female part of mughat and a large part of men, especially the older generation. Mugat traditionally engaged in the cultivation and trade of horses and donkeys, blacksmithing, as well as begging and fortune telling in Central Asia. Despite certain features of the way of life, during the Soviet period of the national history, mughat led quite a social way of life. Many representatives of this ethnic group participated in the Great Patriotic War, were awarded orders and medals. The level of education of the Central Asian Gypsies increased, the majority of them found work in collective farms or in enterprises. The collapse of the Soviet Union violated the progressive development of this ethnic group. As is known, for Central Asia, the consequences of the collapse of the USSR were especially catastrophic. A bloody civil war broke out in Tajikistan, and the living conditions of the population in Uzbekistan deteriorated sharply. In this situation, a significant part of the Mugat, left with virtually no means of livelihood, migrated to the territory of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation - to more prosperous countries in order to find means of subsistence. Throughout the 1990-x - the beginning of the 2000-x. Mughat was actively begging in Russian cities, and the collection of begging became the main source of livelihood for most of the communities of this ethnic group. Since the middle of the 2000's. there is a gradual outflow of mughat to their homeland - to the Central Asian republics, which is associated with the tightening of migration policy on the one hand, and the normalization of the political situation in Tajikistan - on the other.
- Tajik Gypsies - Mughat (photo by S. Gabbasov)
Note that the problems of the nomadic Gypsy population are inherent not only in the Russian Federation. The arrival of the nomadic tabor political groups of Italy and France, where a large number of immigrants from Hungary and Romania now roam, are considered a serious threat to national interests. The situation is aggravated by the historical and cultural characteristics of the lifestyle of the Gypsy ethnos, many subethnic groups of which are not going to abandon the nomadic way of life, and cannot do it because of the lack of housing, professions, education from their representatives.
Portrait of a homeless person
Sociologists of Vladimir State University conducted a study in which they tried to identify the main causes of homelessness and form an average portrait of a homeless person in the Central Russian region (The image of the modern homeless: a sociological analysis // http://www.rae.ru/). As a result of the study, it was found that 42,9% of homeless people did not receive housing after being released from prison. 14,3% of homeless people became uninhabitable, 8,6% lost their homes for family reasons, 8,6% were evicted by a court decision, 2,9% were forced to sell their own homes and the same number of citizens fell victim to fraudulent black realtors. In addition, 5,8% of respondents lost their homes as a result of relocations for the purpose of employment, and 2,9% lost their documents. Thus, it was found that former prisoners are the most frequent category of replenishment of the homeless and have the greatest risk of housing loss after being released from prison. As for the regional origin of homeless people, the majority of homeless people in Vladimir are represented by nonresident homeless people who arrived in the city from the region or from other cities of Russia and even the former Soviet Union. The bulk of the homeless (77%) prefers to spend the night at train stations, despite the opposition of the police. 25,7% sometimes sleeps with relatives and acquaintances, and only 14,3% of homeless people sometimes or always spend the night in empty buildings that are unsuitable for living, basements, and in attics. More than 85% of homeless people have a profession, which once again confirms the correctness of the words of Sergey Kara-Murza, who paid attention to the specifics of Russian homelessness - homelessness of people with a profession and education. Also, as a result of a sociological survey, it was found that more than half of the homeless sought social assistance from government agencies. Judging by the fact that they remained in the position of the homeless, the state bodies did not render them really substantial support. Equally, the result of the lack of housing was the cessation of communication with relatives, who also do not provide assistance to the majority of homeless people.
Most often, a modern Russian homeless person is a 40-50 male of years with secondary vocational or elementary vocational education, previously tried, having experience in the past in the past. A significant part of the homeless, before getting into the street, was serving a sentence in prison, but then either the relatives sold their houses, or yesterday prisoners lost their documents after they left the prison - in general, they moved from the colonies and prisons to the basements and railway stations. A large percentage of former prisoners among the homeless, together with the general specifics of street survival, explains the massive incidence of tuberculosis among this part of Russian citizens. Naturally, many former prisoners, having gone homeless, subsequently commit crimes again and go to prison. This indicates the presence of numerous gaps in the field of social rehabilitation of former prisoners, the protection of their rights and interests "in the wild" while serving their terms of imprisonment.
The presence of millions of homeless citizens is an offensive phenomenon for the state, because it indicates the impossibility or unwillingness to solve this major social problem, or at least partially solve it, providing housing to the most needy categories of citizens leading a social lifestyle. It is not normal when industrious and law-abiding citizens of the country who are able to benefit their homeland are deprived of their own housing and are not able to solve their housing problems with the help of the state. Sociologists are also in the center of attention of representatives of the “social bottom” - the very “homeless” that we see at railway stations and markets, in the basements and in the entrances of houses, on the benches in the parks. A significant part of the representatives of the "social bottom" are not only homeless, but also typical carriers of a whole set of social diseases and defects. As a rule, they suffer from chronic alcoholism, in some cases - drug addiction, they can be carriers of tuberculosis, venereal and skin diseases. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this category of citizens was completely left to itself, and due to the above socio-economic processes, it began to grow rapidly in number and cover an increasing number of citizens who lost their own homes. However, even now, a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet state, neither federal, nor regional, nor municipal authorities have developed truly effective measures that would contribute to a real improvement in the social position of the homeless. Most large cities in the country have municipal shelters for the homeless, but the number of places in them is ridiculous - a city with a population of 1-3 million people may have one shelter with 40-60 places for the homeless. Even at one station in such a city, there are more homeless people than can accommodate such a “rehabilitation center”. Greater zeal in helping homeless people is shown not so much by government as by public organizations, including religious communities, from Orthodox to Protestants and Hare Krishnas. As for the state structures, so far their activity towards solving the problem of homelessness is at a low level. The homeless are virtually deleted from the list of social programs and projects, including an innovative focus, since they are not registered anywhere, their number and personalities are unknown. The bureaucratization of the state apparatus also impedes the formation of a developed system of assistance to the homeless, their rehabilitation and housing.
Orphanage - risk category
One of the most difficult problems for modern Russia in the context of the topic under consideration is the fight against homelessness. It should be noted that in reality the number of homeless children in Russia is not as high as some mass media and even responsible officials are trying to impress on us. At least, not about any millions of street children. Thousands - yes, which is also very bad, but not millions. Various sources call numbers ranging from 4,3 thousand people to 7,5 thousand people. It is easy to check these figures, referring to the statistics of law enforcement agencies that keep records of adolescents and children in the temporary isolation centers for juvenile offenders. Almost all homeless children, one way or another, are in the field of view of law enforcement agencies, but they escape from state educational institutions. On the other hand, speaking of the enormous number of street children on the streets of Russian cities, many people confuse street children and street children. The latter category of children have parents, have their own home, but families are usually dysfunctional, and children actually lead a vagabond lifestyle, including joining the social environment of the homeless and petty street criminals. It is homeless children who become the "source of personnel" for street crime, join the ranks of drug addicts and alcoholics. However, it is sometimes more difficult to overcome the phenomenon of child neglect than to provide housing for homeless people — after all, the number of families in which parents abuse alcohol or drugs do not perform parental duties or are simply indifferent to the education of their children, is very large. It is impossible to keep track of the situation in each specific family, given the high degree of workload of law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and social protection services. However, the catastrophic situation with street children, which actually took place in the 1990-s, is now largely overcome. Currently, the number of children in children's homes in the Russian Federation is about 72 thousand people. Recall that five years ago, this figure reached 125 thousands of children. The reduction in the number of children in orphanages is due to two factors. Firstly, the number of street children falling into orphanages from the street is still decreasing. Secondly, the practice of adopting children from orphanages by adoptive families is becoming more common. So, back in 2012, thousands of children were raised in foster families, which is several times more than the number of pupils in state-run orphanages and boarding schools. The growth in the number of adoptions of children by foster families was promoted not only by the campaign in the mass media to popularize the adoption, but also by quite specific government steps towards social support for foster families, including through material incentives.
Nevertheless, there is an acute issue of housing for graduates of orphanages. In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, orphanage graduates who do not have 18 years of their own housing are provided with housing at state expense. However, in practice, yesterday’s orphans often face bureaucratic arbitrariness, unwillingness to allocate proper housing, and even outright fraud. At regular intervals in various regions of the country, graduates of orphanages with the help of human rights organizations are suing the local authorities responsible for the provision of housing. But the financial problem remains a key obstacle to providing housing for all those in need. Many of them have to wait for the promised housing for years. Meanwhile, the inadequate level of social rehabilitation of graduates of orphanages is one of the reasons that many of yesterday’s orphans are rapidly marginalized, fall under the influence of anti-social and anti-social companies, begin to abuse alcohol and drugs, or take the path of criminal activity. Many graduates of orphanages, especially in the absence of the promised housing, which is imposed alcohol or drug addiction, soon find themselves on the street - in the company of homeless vagrants. By the way, that category of children from the orphanage who have parents or other relatives with whom they lived before being placed in orphanages is not provided with housing. That is, upon reaching 18 years and the “discharge” from the orphanage, the children will only have to go to their parents or relatives and try to defend their rights to housing. It is clear that a significant part of graduates do not do this - either because of their unwillingness to get involved with inadequate parents once more, or because the parents could have lost their living space by this time or let in by outsiders. So, this category of children's home-based students is also one of the sources for replenishing Russian homeless people, and the public service workers will later say that young people, they say, voluntarily chose the way of life of the homeless - after all, they "have" their own housing.
In addition, it makes sense to talk about the problems of potential homeless people. This is a very large category of Russian citizens, who, from the point of view of sociologists, have every chance of becoming homeless under adverse circumstances. The sociologist V. Volkov refers to them the following groups of the population, which he calls risk groups: 1) inhabitants of emergency and dilapidated housing; 2) persons preparing for release from prison; 3) military personnel and family members of military personnel; 4) orphans and street children; 5) lonely disabled; 6) persons living in a non-privatized apartment of a relative; 7) persons living in a privatized apartment of a relative, but not owning a share of the living space and not inheriting the given living space; 8) persons living in hostels whose premises belong to enterprises and institutions; 9) persons who are under threat of eviction, including for non-payment of utility bills; 10) persons who have taken a loan or a loan from a bank or from individuals on the security of their only housing; 11) unemployed citizens; 12) dependents; 13) persons who are in a long absence at the place of residence. Each of these categories of citizens may lose their housing for various reasons - to be discharged by relatives, to sell housing in order to ensure its existence, to be a victim of fraudulent fraud. Thus, the problem of homelessness in modern Russia is very wide and covers not only those representatives of the “social bottom”, untidy and eternally drunk people with whom “people without a certain place of residence” associate in public consciousness. Meanwhile, the right to housing is considered an inalienable human right, and the protection of the rights of citizens, in turn, is one of the main meanings of the existence of a normal state. The solution of many other social problems depends on the solution of the problem of homelessness in modern Russia - from the demographic problem to the problem of the criminalization of Russian society and the growth of crime.
Currently, the Russian government faces a very difficult and urgent task - solving the problem of homelessness. Despite the existing positive developments, in particular in the direction of work on the prevention of child homelessness, an effective set of measures has not yet been developed that would allow us to hope for at least a partial solution of this problem in the foreseeable future. First of all, the state is facing a shortage of funding, and secondly, with a lack of development and inconsistency of the regulatory framework. Therefore, so far all initiatives in the field of fighting homelessness are more likely to be single and non-systemic, they are the result of the activities of individual enthusiasts, including at the federal and regional levels.