[Hpn] Homeless Shelter Plan Panned;St. Petersburg, Russia;6/29/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Tue, 03 Jul 2001 11:53:26 -0400


-------Forwarded article-------

#682, Friday, June 29, 2001
St. Petersburg Times <http://www.sptimesrussia.com>
News from Russia in English
[St. Petersburg, Russia]
Homeless Shelter Plan Panned

By Galina Stolyarova and Irina Titova

As St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary approaches, a local construction 
company has proposed a plan to accomodate 1,000 homeless for the duration of 
the festivities, and is asking the city administration for funds to do the 

The plan as set out by the firm Alyans comprises building a one-storey 
center of 6,000 square meters in Shungerovsky Park, located in the 
Krasnoselsky District, right on the city's south-western outskirts where 
dachas are more prevalent than apartment blocks. The project, a copy of 
which was obtained by The St. Petersburg Times, would cost $750,000 (or $125 
per square meter), with the building providing shelter, food, shower 
facilities and medical care.

At the end of the jubile, whch falls in 2003, the firm suggests using the 
building for some other social purpose such as a children's camp or rest 

There are as many as 8,000 homeless people living on or in St. Petersburg's 
streets, cellars and stairwells, according to Maxim Yegorov, a 
representative of the Nochlezhka (Night Shelter) Fund which helps the 
homeless. They can be divided into three major groups: former prisoners who 
lost their registration; those who were swindled or coerced out of their 
apartments; and others who for various reasons have left or fled their 
original homes.

There are also many more - over 50,000, according to Nochlezhka - living in 
the city without being registered here, often people from other regions, who 
seek work but who cannot afford a permanent residence.

The Alliance proposal is currently being examined by the law and order 
committee in the Legislative Assembly. But judging from comments made by 
committee member Tatyana Levina, it is unlikely to become a reality.

"Although we are still studying the project, I do not think that the 
Legislative Assembly will appove it," Levina said in a telephone interview 
on Thursday. She called the plan unrealistic and underdeveloped, adding, 
"From the financial point of view it is definitely impracticable."

Despite repeated attempts, representatives from Alliance could not be 
reached this week.

Anatoly Ivanov, an official from the City Labor and Social Affairs 
Committee, said he had received little information about the project, but 
added that he, too, thought the idea ill-conceived.

"We already have shelters, and Governor Vladimir Yakovlev signed an order to 
open night shelters for the homeless in every district two months ago," he 
said. "Using these resources would make better sense than taking these 
people out of the city - like the old-fashioned way when such things 
happened during the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow."

It is also reminiscent of a more recent uproar in 1998, when homeless 
activists accused Yakovlev of ordering the police to round up of homeless 
people from train stations, take them out of the city limits and abandon 
them in remote, forested areas. The governor denied giving such an order.

"Removing homeless people from the city center is a violation of their 
rights," said a Salvation Army representative in St. Petersburg, who did not 
wish to be identified. "Nobody has the right to deprive them of their 
celebration [in 2003]. Why don't they get rid of the disabled and the 
elderly as well? They don't often make for a 'beautiful' picture, either."


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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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