There is a risk that the missing funds will be taken out of the pockets of Russians
Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin named three main problems of housing and communal services, without the solution of which the government will not cope with the task of improving the quality of the urban environment by one and a half times and will not be able to provide Russians with a billion square meters of new modern housing. The main obstacles are the issues of demolition of dilapidated buildings and resettlement of tenants huddling in such slums, modernization of the infrastructure to which new buildings will be connected, and debts on utility bills. To eliminate the indicated obstacles, a global restructuring of the industry is required, for which its reformers will need at least a trillion rubles.
The key task with which officials will have to cope with the transformation of the housing industry in Russia is the systematization of dilapidated real estate in order to develop a new approach to resettlement of residents of dilapidated houses. “We need to decide what to do with the dilapidated housing: which one needs to be overhauled, which one needs to be reconstructed, and which one needs to be demolished,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
Among other requirements of the upcoming reform, Khusnullin mentioned the reconstruction of “leaky networks” – 60% worn out water pipelines and heating networks that should not be connected to the infrastructure under construction, as well as overdue payments for utilities, which seriously hinder the 100% implementation of the state investment program in the housing sector.
The amount of work that officials are going to puzzle the builders looks more than impressive. In the next three years, the goal is to increase the volume of housing construction to at least 120 million square meters annually and to increase the urban environment quality index by 30% (the multiplier introduced by the Ministry of Construction, with the help of which the government will begin to assess the level of living comfort of the population). Investments for the implementation of the tasks required by the developers of the reform project are striking in their scale – only for the reconstruction of infrastructure networks, for which only 5-10 billion rubles are currently allocated, more than 1 trillion rubles need to be spent. It is expected to agree on the updated concept of restructuring housing and communal services with all relevant departments no later than the first quarter of 2022, and the sources of funding for the program will be determined by the end of December.
“It’s surprising that only now they decided to carry out a“ large-scale reform ”of housing and communal services. More than half of the worn-out engineering networks have been talked about for ten years, and the program for resettlement from dilapidated and dilapidated housing was developed even earlier. Over the past time, it was possible to understand which houses to repair and which to reconstruct or demolish, ”notes Natalya Chernysheva, director of the People’s Control Organization. In this regard, the expert has questions to the Ministry of Construction, according to which the implementation of the resettlement program is progressing ahead of schedule, and the plan for 2020 was overfulfilled by one and a half times.
Obviously, the accumulated rates of increase in the incomes of citizens – those who pay utility bills – are not enough. In a short time, the investments required by the housing sector can be attracted only from the National Welfare Fund, in which more than 14 trillion rubles had been accumulated by September. “At the same time, it is necessary to find out why resource supplying organizations did not update and modernize networks on time,” the expert notes. “The prosecutor’s office has already found out that in a number of regions, the increase in tariffs is often provided not for the repair of communications, but for bonuses to top managers.”
In addition, large-scale plans for the renewal of housing and communal services infrastructure still exist only in the form of plans on paper, and multi-storey new buildings are often erected in fact on vacant lots or on the site of demolished old houses, the area of which is 2-3 times smaller, which significantly increases the load on infrastructure networks … It is not at all clear whether the developer will be engaged in updating the networks, since de facto this is the prerogative of the municipality. Taking into account this uncertainty, it is possible that the costs of the goals associated with the construction will also have to be differentiated: either the corresponding costs will be included in the development contracts, or the cost per square meter will increase by a multiple of investments in infrastructure. Accordingly, there is a risk that the funds lacking for the reform of housing and communal services will be taken out of the pockets of the population.
“Shifting an additional financial burden on the population will not be a way out. Incomes of the population and the growth of utility tariffs are moving in diametrically opposite directions, – says Mikhail Kogan, head of the analytical research department of the Higher School of Financial Management. – The net assets of Russians in bank accounts fell to a minimum in 2009, and bailiffs have accumulated cases to recover 2 trillion rubles. If people simply don’t have money to pay «communal», then you can’t force anyone to invest in houses, the construction of which is not even at the level of the foundation. “
The authorities are blowing the roof