Waiting since 1972 Vladivostok family receives apartment after nearly 50 years on social housing waitlist

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In 1972, Elena Safonova’s parents moved into a barrack in Russia’s far-eastern city of Vladivostok. They applied for social housing and were put on a waitlist, where they remained for the rest of their lives. At one point, six Safonov family members were living in that same barrack. Though Elena’s parents have since passed away, she continued the family’s fight for social housing. On April 7, a Vladivostok court satisfied a claim from municipal prosecutors, who had confirmed that the Safonov family had been waiting for adequate housing for nearly 50 years.

A district court in Vladivostok has satisfied a claim from municipal prosecutors and ordered the city administration to provide social housing to the Safonovs, a family that had been wait-listed for nearly 50 years. 

In 1972, the Elena Safonova’s parents moved into a barrack on Vladivostok’s Fontannaya Street that was designed for three families. That’s when their wait for better living conditions began, the 49-year-old told the local outlet VL.ru. According to Safonova, after moving into the barracks, her parents had two children: herself and her younger brother. Later, her own two sons began living there too. 

As VL.ru notes, by all standards a family of six is entitled to an apartment that’s bigger than 100 square meters (more than 1,075 square feet). But for almost 50 years, the Vladivostok authorities were allegedly unable to find a suitably sized apartment, the prosecutor’s office says. 

“Around seven years ago we were moved to Kirov Street, to a one-bedroom, 32-square-meter [344-square-foot] apartment,” Elena Safonova said. After the death of her parents, four people still live in this apartment: Elena herself, her 46-year-old brother, as well as her two sons, aged 26 and 17. “The eldest son sleeps on the floor, my brother [sleeps] in the kitchen, and we insulated the balcony for my youngest son and put a bed there,” Safonova explained.

During his lifetime, Safonova’s father, and Elena Safonova herself, complained to the prosecutor’s office about their living conditions. Following an inspection at Sofonova’s request, the Vladivostok prosecutor’s office confirmed that the family had indeed been on the waitlist for social housing since 1972. Prosecutors then proceeded to file a lawsuit in court to protect the family’s legal rights — on April 7, 2021, it was satisfied in full. In accordance with this ruling, the city authorities must provide the Safonov family with a 72-square-meter (775-square-foot) apartment (the standard allocation for a family of four).

Elena Safonova says that the family will either be given a new apartment that’s the required size, or they will keep the apartment where they live now and be given a second apartment that’s 40 square meters (430 square feet).“Of course we would like to be given an additional apartment, my sons and I would settle in there,” Safonova said. At the same time, the Vladivostok resident still fears that the city authorities may challenge the decision.

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Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eillish Hart

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