Protecting the housing rights of the family of Zemfira Aleksandrovna in the village Volodarskaya, after city plans for the demolition of their home

ADC Memorial’s project for the protection of Roma rights in Russia includes providing assistance for the social and economic rights of Roma, the most important being their right to housing.

In the September of this year, the family of Zemphira Aleksadrovna (including her elderly mother and her seven underage children) found itself in an extremely dire situation. The house in which they had been residing in by order of the district administration since 2006, was recognized as hazardous to live in and thus subject to demolition. Representatives of the housing agency began to demand the family’s eviction from the house, each time threatening that the demolition vehicle would soon come to demolish the building. In order to force the family to leave earlier, the heating and electricity were shut off, forcing the children to complete their homework by candlelight for several weeks, amongst other inconveniences.

With the assistance of ADC Memorial’s employee Antonina Sukhovskaya, Zempfira’s mother and the grandmother of the children turned to the organization for help in protecting the housing rights of their family.

Despite the fact that the Alexandrov family has been registered as in need of improved housing conditions for many years, and that the family consists of minor children with no other means for accommodation, they were not presented with any other dwelling place in place of the hazardous building. All the while, the other residents of the same building were provided with other accommodation in which to move into. The administration was thus ready to send the family and it’s many children out onto the street, citing their lack of registration (although registration in emergency houses is prohibited by regulation) and lack of free premises (“we can’t provide housing for everyone”).

To draw attention to the situation, ADC Memorial sent notices to all competent authorities: the housing agency, administration, department of emergency resettlement fund- requesting that the interests of the large family are taken into account, and asking for the provision of a different accommodation for the Alexandrov family in place of the one to be demolished, with time for their relocation.

Finally, after repeated refusals and negotiations conducted by staff of ADC Memorial, the district housing agency provided the family with another house on the adjacent street, albeit temporarily until May 1, 2011, and also delayed the demolition of their current home until after their relocation. At this point, the Alexandrov family are readying for their relocation and for the renovation of their new home, with the fear that next year their children could once again be ousted on the street after the next decision of the local administration. Unfortunately their fears have a real basis, so help with defending their rights to housing and decent living conditions for the development of their children will almost certainly be needed.

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