Homeless in Ukraine

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Kabachenko N. (Ukraine)

“The Problem of Homelessness in Ukraine”

The paper presents a situation with homelessness in Ukraine. Particularly, the following aspects are covered: the legislation, the institutions which serve the homeless people, approaches to data collection methodology, causes of homelessness, challenges with establishing of the new services for homeless people and complications with research activity in this field.

The Homeless Situation

The situation with the homelessness in Ukraine is rather strained and deteriorating. Political and economic changes in Ukrainian society cause processes that lead to increase of number of homeless people. Big cities are most suffering from this problem, where a large quantity of homeless persons are concentrated as they come there for better life from different parts of Ukraine. Well-developed infrastructure of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, as well as better standards of living, make the city attractive for people looking for means of subsistence. Homeless persons are among them and the number of them is constantly increasing. The number of homeless people in different cities is decreasing or increasing depending on the season. In winter, more homeless people are looking for s shelter in large cities, in spring they move to the south, to the Black Sea coast, where they can find season work, or to the country side. Obviously, homeless people are often forced to live this way, but a large number of homeless people have temporary, often illegal work at the black market to earn for their living. Besides, a vagrant person may have a private house in a village but is forced to leave it as he/she couldn’t get a job. A lot of villages in Ukraine with appropriate housing conditions (houses, communication, roads and so on) are almost empty because active citizens have moved to large cities searching for job. During the Soviet times the Criminal Code contained an article according to which those individuals engaged in vagrancy (a homeless way of living), mendicancy or antisocial behavior could be held accountable for these action before a court. Usually, they were taken to a Reception Centre, which served mainly for identification purposes. In case a homeless person hadn’t his/her personal identification documents, the officials tried to identify him/her, his/her picture was taken and he or she was given new documents. During 30 days of staying there, the authorities looked for a job or provided some job training and a place to live (usually hostels were supported by factories and enterprises). The homeless were given a special document (prescription) to go there and in order to start a new life. The police officers were responsible for supervision of this process. The idea that Ukraine should bring its legislation closer to the European standards had resulted in withdrawal of this article from the Criminal Code. However, consequences of the economic stagnation, massive unemployment and overall poverty haven’t been taken into account. Currently, it is not the police responsibility to deal with the problem but in reality they have to work with homeless people in different way because it was practically no ones responsibility until very recently. Among all the authorities, the police officers are best informed and aware about the problems of homeless people, thus the statistics on the homeless in Ukraine are based only on the data provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Police). Usually they collect the data on the number of persons who were detained and taken to the Receptions all around Ukraine. But recently the quantity the Receptions has declined sharply and there are more than 40 in number. Presently only few large cities of Ukraine, including Kyiv, Charkiv, Dnipropetrovs’k, Odessa, Poltava etc, provide this type of services. The mission of Receptions is first of all to identify the person detained and...
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