Habitat for Humanity Russian Federation
Habitat's work in Russian Federation
Habitat for Humanity was invited to work in Russia by a group of enthusiastic supporters from Ulan-Ude, the capital of the autonomous republic of Buryatia in eastern Siberia. The affiliate started work there by buying and renovating two dilapidated apartments and one half-built house. Habitat Ulan-Ude is negotiating long-term cooperation with local authorities on solving substandard housing problems on a more expansive scale.
The housing need in Russia
Most Russians live in multistory housing blocks that may have up to 300 apartments. In some dormitory-type buildings, several families share one toilet and have sinks instead of showers for washing. Overcrowding is widespread, and many extended families live in one tiny apartment.
Mortgages are becoming more widely available, but even middle-class families often cannot afford the lofty interest rates commercial banks charge. Low-income families have almost no hope of ever owning a home, as the state cut short construction of social housing units.
About 150,000 homes in Russia become uninhabitable each year because of lack of repairs. Most were constructed 40 or 50 years ago and have seen no upgrading for the past 20 years. It is expected that within 10 years the need for repair and reconstruction will reach an alarming level.
How Habitat addresses the need
Habitat in Ulan-Ude currently focuses on helping families to protect homes during harsh Siberian winters by installing new plastic triple glazed windows in their houses and apartments; these interventions drastically improve the energy efficiency of the homes.
Here is a current example of a Habitat project in Russia:
- Upgrading energy efficiency
Many families in Russia live in substandard housing conditions. Most of the apartments have rotten wooden windows that allow 80 percent of the heat to escape and thus many suffer in the harsh Siberian winters.
According to the Russian Ministry of Construction, out of 100 percent heat loss in non-energy efficient homes 80 percent of the loss comes from inadequate windows. To prevent this and to improve energy efficiency of homes, Habitat for Humanity in Ulan Ude is helping to install new, completely insulated plastic windows. This way extended families living in the houses can also make better use of space due to balanced distribution of heat and do not have to concentrate in one or two rooms.
Each family will repay their mortgages in low monthly installments for a period of two years. These repayments will then go into Habitat for Humanity´s Revolving fund, which will be used to do more renovations in future.
Meet a Habitat family
Roman and Oksana Khandazhapovs and their daugther, Anna, used to share an apartment with Roman’s parents before they learned about Habitat from a friend. They applied to Habitat and soon moved into a new apartment, where they have been living for more than five years.
In 2008, the Khandazhapovs welcomed another baby daughter to their family, and they are now enjoying their Habitat home all together.
Main country facts: Declared independence in June 1990
Population: More than 140 million
Find more country facts on:
CIA The World Factbook – Russia
When the program started: 2002
Highlights: U.S. philanthropist Dr. Huss sponsored the first new house built by volunteers and families in 2004
Families served: More than 60