November 15, 2017

There Were No Homeless in the U.S.S.R.

Patriarch of Moscow Cyril comes to us with great news! It turns out that there were no homeless people in the USSR! The head of the Russian Orthodox Church claims that he first met a homeless man in San Francisco, and in the Soviet Union you would never see such a thing as this.

“I will never forget my first meeting with the homeless, it was not in our country, but in San Francisco, in the United States, at a time when there was no such thing as a homeless man in the Soviet Union . 

The first time I saw homeless people was in the center of a prosperous, rich city. However, this wounded my heart. What kind of country is it? How can she call herself great ?! How can she call herself rich? How can she talk about herself as an example to others if all around are a lot of people do not have a home ?!

It seems that the Holy Ruler decided to kick Russia at the same time … Even from his patriarchal armored car, Cyril can not help noticing what is happening, for example, on the porches of Russian churches.

In short, there are many homeless people in Russia. But is it true that there were no homeless people in the USSR?

Here everything becomes quite interesting.

First, the right of a Soviet citizen to housing was guaranteed by the Constitution. For example, this is how it was formulated in the 1977 Constitution of the USSR:

Article 44. Citizens of the USSR have the right to housing. 

This right is ensured by the development and protection of the state and public housing stock, the promotion of cooperative and individual housing construction, the fair distribution under public supervision of the living space provided as the housing construction program is implemented, as well as a low payment for the apartment and utilities. Citizens of the USSR should take care of the housing provided to them.

Secondly, since the Socialist system was unable to provide housing for 250 million people (and by the time of collapse – 290 million), the homeless population did, in fact, exist.

Thirdly, in the USSR it was essentially impossible to just stay on the street. Why is this? Because it was considered criminal under the current laws.

By the 1950s, the struggle against the homeless began with “antisocial and parasitic elements,” although the poor during those years in the country numbered at least 150,000 people.

Since 1961, the Soviet Union began to consider homelessness “parasitism”, and the victims of this campaign were not only homeless people, but anyone who had unearned incomes. In the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic since 1960, the following Criminal Code was in force in Article 209:

The systematic occupation of vagrancy or begging, continued after a repeated warning made by the administrative authorities – is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or corrective labor for a period of six months to one year.

Due to the fact that you were left without a roof over your head, you could at any moment go to jail for two years.

In the Soviet Union the reason there were no homeless people, disabled people and all others was not because they did not exist, but because the authorities did not check such statistics or they relocated them to special detention centers, put them in jail, and deported all those who spoiled the image of the country.

If the patriarch did not observe this, then he is either blind, cunning or just denying Soviet realities.

How many homeless people live in Russia now is not known exactly but even the State Duma deputies recognise that the real number of homeless people in Russia is from “3 to 5 million people”.

As for the United States, this is quite a serious problem: the homeless in the country are estimated at least at 3 million, although in fact if most likely many more. Officials talk about three reasons for the growth in the number of homeless people: lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment. But there are others.

For example, since the 1950s, the US authorities have stopped financing psychiatric hospitals, and most of the patients had to go to live on the streets. Also, many veterans turned out to be among the homeless, because the US Department of Veterans Affairs is not doing very well with its duties and does not have time to provide its residents with social housing and medical services.

In the USSR, they were even stricter, and it is very strange that the 70-year-old Patriarch Cyril, who spent most of his life in Russia and the USSR was not aware of this.