Russia may benefit from using the foster family care system to help vulnerable adult people in the same way children with no family to care for them avail of it, the head of the presidential human rights council suggested.
The idea was floated by Mikhail Fedotov during a council session dedicated to homelessness and how the government can work with civil society in tackling the problem.
“A foster child lives in a family while the people, who take care of him or her, get compensation for it. We may use the same mechanism for the elderly homeless people or homeless people with disabilities,” the official said.
He added that social workers would then be able to check on people in such situations to ensure they are not abused.
Homelessness is a problem that is difficult to tackle, partially because homeless people are often stigmatized by society. In Russia it’s partially stemming from Soviet times, when the government’s tight control on the population included ensuring that every citizen has a known address – with at least some sort of living arrangements provided if necessary.
Despite changing times, there is still a notion shared by many Russians that a homeless person must have done something wrong to become one. In reality all too many are victims – of abusive family members who kicked them out of the home, crooks who cheat them to part with their property, and other circumstances of life. The negative attitude seems to be slowly changing for the better, but homeless people are still facing persecution and abuse.
There are of course emergency shelters operated in large cities by municipalities and charities, where homeless people can get help. However there is much more work to be done to tackle the problem.
The situation is further complicated by a lack of reliable statistics on the number of homeless people. The official count in 2010, which was based on a national census, was 64,000, but the number is far off. Upper estimates place the figure at three to five million.
The statistics problem is far from being unique to Russia. The US authorities estimated the number of homeless people in America at 553,742 in 2017, but the actual number may be several times higher.
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