Russia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
A homeowner family in front of their new home—the first newly built Habitat home in Russia.
The largest country in the world, Russia is also one with tremendous housing need. After the breakup of the former USSR in 1991, many people throughout Russia lost not only their way of life but their life savings, jobs and homes. According to the official state statistics, 39 million Russians live in poverty. The housing situation in Russia quickly deteriorated when local governments were no longer able to build and distribute free or subsidized housing to all citizens. This has left many Russians in need of decent shelter.
Most people in Russia live in multi-story housing blocks that may have up to 3,000 apartments. In some cases up to 50 families share two toilets and have sinks instead of showers for washing. Overcrowding is widespread, and many extended families live in apartments not large enough to accommodate a single family. The families who rent such homes can be forced to move several times per year as landlords find tenants able to pay more. Few low-income families have hopes of ever owning their own homes.
Habitat in Russia
Habitat for Humanity International was invited to work in Russia by a group of concerned citizens in Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia Republic located in Eastern Siberia. The first affiliate in Russia was approved in November 2002 and began construction just a few months later. Habitat`s work immediately captured the interest of the local population, attracting not only many families wishing to partner with Habitat but also volunteers offering their help.
The affiliate started work by buying and renovating two dilapidated apartments and one unfinished house and selling them interest-free to Habitat families. In the summer of 2004, the first completely new house, sponsored by the U.S. philanthropist Dr. Huss and built by Global Village volunteers, was dedicated. As of May 2006, HFH Ulan-Ude has completed 11 units (both newly built houses and renovations) and is currently negotiating long-term cooperation with local labor unions and municipal authorities on solving substandard housing problems.
Habitat’s activities in Ulan-Ude receive significant attention from the local media in Siberian region as well as the top leadership of Buryatia Republic. Habitat participated at the inter-regional building fair organized by the regional Ministry of Construction and Architecture and was recognized for its contribution for ”real help in solving housing issues.”
Eastern Siberia in which Habitat builds actively is known well beyond Russian borders for its extremely harsh weather conditions. Sweltering summers replace freezing winters, when temperatures can fall bellow -40ºC (-49F). The only way to counterbalance the climate is by building houses with wide, strong walls and quality heating.
- Awarded special certificate from the Ministry of Construction and Achitecture recognizing HFH`s active contribution to solving the poverty housing problem in the Republic of Buryatia.
- HFH created a database with 60 active local volunteers.
- Leadership of HFH Ulan-Ude received by the President of the Republic of Buryatia and Deputy Chair of the parliament.