Since 1924, five-year plans provided national economic and urban
development that was aimed at providing equal services for all.
Muscovites primarily live in flats in multistorey buildings. Moscow’s
population has tripled during the last 70 years and, in spite of
massive municipal housing construction, there are still some people
who live in shared flats, or in outdated or dilapidated buildings.
Shared flats with communal cervices, built between 1920 and 1955,
were designed to house the needy on the basis of one family per
room. Despite enormous efforts – more than 80 per cent of
Moscow’s housing was buil tduring the past 30 to 40 years
– about 15 per cent of the registered population still live
in shared flats.
Dilapidated buildings are generally five-storey high blocks of apartments,
built from pre-fabricated concrete panels during the mid 1950s.
That first generation of industrial housing was followed by improved
second (mid 1960s) and, still better, third generation (1980s) of
mass type housing. Due to poor maintenance and shortage of living
space, about 36 per cent of Moscow’s housing stock is physically
or otherwise ‘out of date’.
Squatter flats resulted from illegal subleasing of municipal or
private housing. The post-1994 easing of the ‘urban employment
access to housing requirement’ made Moscow the number one
migration destination, including a considerable percentage of refugees.
No formal definition of slum is given, as it is generally considered
that the city does not have slums, but has communal (shared)
flats, dilapidated buildings and deteriorated houses.
Several types of accommodation in Moscow do not meet contemporary
standards for housing:
flats (communalky): these are apartments that are used
by two or more families who share the kitchen and other facilities
(including hostels, dormitories and hotels).
and dilapidated buildings (vethi and avariyni): this
typically comprises the first generation of mass housing, now outdated
in terms of quality of construction and facilities. Residents are
entitled to housing improvement or free alternative accommodation,
but queues are long and move slowly according to availability of
municipal housing stock.
Deteriorated houses: these are primarily post-World
War II structures that are recognized as damaged or otherwise unsuitable
for constant habitation.
Before 1992, almost all houses in Moscow were state owned, municipal
or corporate. There were practically no private houses in Moscow
for 70 years. In ten years, two thirds of the housing stock became
private through privatization and new construction. Poor people
generally stay in state-owned flats that they rent or lease.
‘Low-income citizens’ are defined through the
criterion of ‘cost of living’, representing a minimum
basket of consumption materials and services ‘necessary for
preservation of health and maintenance of ability to live of the
people’ – this is estimated as 2900 rubles (about US$90)
per person (during the year 2002). Moscow provides financial assistance
to families with actual per person income lower than the cost of
living in the city, and to families with minor children, students
and youth, veterans of the Great Patriotic war, older citizens and
‘Needy for dwelling’ people have the right
to apply for housing improvement at the expense of the city. In
Moscow, a family is considered in need for housing if there are
less than 9 square metres of floor area per person.
Moscow’s poor population is also made up of illegal immigrants,
refugees and seasonal workers. As the collection basin is, in principle,
the entire territory of the former USSR, little specific socio-political
characteristics can be attributed to this wide array of people.
The main purpose of the federal programme Dwellings for 2002–2010
is transition to sustainable development in the housing sphere,
ensuring availability of housing accommodation to the citizens,
as well as a safe and comfortable urban environment. This housing
reform programme comprises modernizing municipal housing and resettling
citizens from shabby and dilapidated housing stock. The reforms
are aimed at:
a transition to sustainable development in the housing sphere, ensuring
availability of housing accommodation to the citizens and a safe
and comfortable urban environment;
the necessary legal, taxation, privatization, housing finance and
With accumulated public- and private-sector resources and according
to the Law on Moscow Master Plan, the following changes in housing
reconstruction and development are envisaged for the following 20
of shared flats and existing dilapidated housing stock by 2010;
of housing stock from 176 up to 220 million–230 million square
and stabilization of the total share of physically amortized and
of out-of-date residential stock from 36 to 15 per cent through
substitution of apartments of the first generation and by increase
of annual of reconstruction;
of maintenance and operating performances of residential buildings
(at the expense of increase of high-quality housing stock and a
decrease of low-quality residential stock);
of the urban environment, and of sociopsychological and ecological
in the efficiency of urban territories through mixed-use development,
and increase of residential and mixed residential densities.
Much of Moscow’s current housing crisis is inherited from
the past, exacerbated by problems inherent to the current politico-philosophical
shifts of the transitional period. In both cases, the housing sector
did not receive sufficient resources. Largely dependent on subsidies
and unsatisfactory financing, expensive maintenance and an environment
with a general absence of economic incentives or market competition,
the housing crisis does not come as a surprise. In order to work
itself out of these problems, considerable institutional and social
reorganizations may be required. Necessary new directions include,
but are not limited to:
a new balance between private and municipal roles;
access to housing finance;
of housing to pave the way for more owner/tenant rights in order
to ease the burden on the state;
of municipal finance;
creation of more public–private partnerships;
establishment of resident community-based organizations to improve
public control over the maintenance and effective use of government
going directly to recipients rather than to agencies in order to
stimulate competition for maintenance services; and
support for NGO interventions.
has been extracted from:
UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, The Challenge
of Slums, Earthscan, London; Part IV: 'Summary of City Case Studies',