Tatiana Bormatova

Tatiana Bormatova's statement

By various estimates, there are 64.000 to 5 million homeless people in Russia. The exact number is hard to calculate — the official statistics are highly distorted. The state does not provide any comprehensive assistance to homeless people, and the little support they still receive is clearly insufficient. In many ways, the task of helping those who have found themselves without a roof over their heads falls on the shoulders of caring citizens.

In Sevastopol, there is a charity fund «Heart of Sevastopol» whose volunteers help the homeless. According to the organization, there are over 2.000 people living in the streets of the city; 600 of them have severe disabilities. The incorporation of Crimea into Russia escalated the problem of homelessness in the region: not everyone was able to reissue their passports and as a result, many can’t get their social security benefits, access healthcare or apply for a job. Social services are not always helpful and the construction of a municipal shelter in the city has been postponed indefinitely for the fourth year in a row.

Last spring, Tatyana Shcherbakova, a member of the legislative assembly, donated her own summer cottage lot with two residential buildings to the «Heart of Sevastopol» to accommodate homeless people with disabilities. This marked the beginning of a social project called «Teremok» (Russian for «little hut» —translator’s note). The neighbors and the housing community chairman did not like this, and all the communications with the lot, including heating and electricity, were cut off. When that happened, the volunteers built stoves for the residents with their own hands to keep them from freezing to death.

«Teremok» can accommodate 10 people at a time. With the help of the project, homeless people get food and a place to sleep, all of them are tested for tuberculosis and receive medical care whenever possible. Volunteers help them to get their documents reissued, draw a pension, claim social security benefits; they also help them find relatives or get a place in a boarding house. However, as head of the «Heart of Sevastopol» Anastasia Makeeva admits, many homeless people get the volunteers’ help when it’s too late. «To myself, I call Teremok a hospice for the homeless», she says, «We try to manage on our own, but with 10 bedridden residents we need at least one nurse, which is at least 20.000 rubles per month. Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of money. We normally raise 30.000-35.000 rubles a month.»

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