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Article

Transformation in Russian housing: the new key roles of local authorities

International Journal of Housing Policy. 2013. No. 3. P. 312-324.
Shomina E., Heywood F.

Democratically elected municipal government had no housing role in the Soviet era in Russia, as all housing belonged to the central state and was administered by its local agents. After 1990, a massive privatization of housing was achieved first through the transfer of stock from industrial companies to municipalities and then through no-cost transfer of ownership to the tenants. But the municipalities who lost this briefly-held housing stock to privatization now find themselves owners of 11% of all the housing in Russia: much more in some regions. Poor condition stock and the inability of the new owners to meet maintenance costs have led to a growing housing role for local authorities, who have many new responsibilities and expectations from local residents, but few resources. Although the situation has parallels in other post-socialist countries, the scale in Russia is greater, and there is no EU aid, nor any tradition either of ownership or of collective responsibility. Economic crisis in Europe and a slow down in housing construction in Russia mean that new policies for rental housing are needed. This review considers historic and recent changes in housing policy in the Russian Federation in the light of the emerging housing rôle of municipal governments. In the review we draw on national data as well an in-depth case study of the city of Perm to illustrate the impact of this transformation. Following a national meeting of housing experts in 2011, a new Government Strategy for 2020 has been established and is also discussed.