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The solution of a housing problem of the Soviet citizens in days of "Thaw"

UDK 94.19 G834

Anna Germanovna Grigorieva

candidate of historical sciences, associate professor of civil law of the Kuban social and economic institute


In days of "THAW"


Article is devoted to a problem of housing construction in the middle of 19531964 - living conditions of citizens improved: the certain apartment or the certain house turned into the prevailing type of the city dwelling; the municipal narrowness, barracks, slum housing became destiny not of bulk, but a smaller part of citizens. The scope of housing construction from 1956 to 1963 accepted really grandiose sizes as a result of which national housing stock grew almost twice.

In the mid-fifties from all needs of the Soviet citizens of the sharpest was housing. It is impossible to forget that in the years of war and the German occupation in the country about 70 mln sq.m of living space were destroyed therefore during the post-war period the people lived in semibasement rooms, shabby houses, barracks, dugouts, huddled in communal flats. In 1954 a number of meetings at which it was offered to pass to construction with industrial methods on the basis of mass production took place. In 1956 at the XX congress of the CPSU the splendor and excesses in architecture were condemned, was considered as inadmissible, "that millions of rubles were spent for senseless embellishment to please to nasty taste of some architects" [1, t. 1, page 78], declared transition to industrial methods of construction. The present plan of city development providing increase in rates of housing construction its cheapening and elimination of a lack of housing for the first time in the Soviet history was approved in 1957. His main idea consisted in construction of the whole series of houses according to the uniform standard project providing modeling of three-four options of the concrete house with standard internal planning. After holding the All-Union competition on new type of housing a number of standard projects of residential buildings with the so-called tialometrazhny apartments calculated on one family was approved.

One-room apartments by living space from 18 to 20 sq.m., two-room - 30 sq.m. and three-room - 36-40 sq.m. were provided. As "Worker" those years wrote, in each apartment the kitchen of 6 sq.m. with a cold case under a window, the combined bathroom, the hall and so-called wardrobe of 2-2.5 sq.m., connected directly with the bedroom, with the built-in wardrobes and regiments for a dress and linen, mezzanines, a mirror and a dressing table was assumed [2, page 21]. According to the editorial the magazine, having such wardrobe, residents got rid of need to get bulky cases [3, page 3]. All "additional areas": corridors, bathrooms, kitchens were reduced to a physiological minimum. Ceilings are lowered up to 2.7 meters, ladder flights are narrowed, storerooms, refuse chutes and elevators are liquidated. All this finally allowed to reduce labor input of construction of housing, to reduce the cost of each apartment by 30-40%, to reduce delivery terms, and, above all to refuse planning of communal flats [4].

To build even quicker and more economically, it was decided to conduct works as the wide front in the big square (in Moscow is a Southwest area, the Region of Kuzminki, the Silver pine forest; Okhta and Shchemilovka in Leningrad). Thus, in housing construction there was a transition to building of the cities by large quarters and residential districts. The word "residential district" was meant as the site of the city up to 60 hectares on which except houses schools, kindergartens and a day nursery, shops, dining rooms, plants of consumer services, a garden on three hectares and a complex of sports grounds were placed.

Residential buildings were located on a meridian in the form of P-shaped cases. As for the city movement, it had to pass on the streets limiting it, and inside

the residential district drives 3-4 meters wide on which there was no through movement were provided. The scope of housing construction from 1956 to 1963 accepted really grandiose sizes as a result of which national housing stock grew almost twice - from 640 to 1,184 mln sq.m, thus, for this period in the USSR more housing, than for the previous 40 years was built [5, page 12]. Only in Moscow in 1961 3,700 thousand sq.m. of housing against 500 thousand sq.m. in 1950 were constructed that gave to people hope sometime to escape from terrible density of communal flats.

As a result of mass construction the security with living space steadily increased, despite high rates of gain of urban population. For example, if in 1950 7 sq.m. of living space, then in 1952 - 7.2 sq.m., 1958 - 8.7 sq.m. were the share of one person in the cities on average

In spite of the fact that from 1940 to 1965 the urban population increased by 93%, security with living space counting on one person increased during this time on average from 6.6 sq.m. to 9.7-9.8 sq.m. [6, page 17]. It should be noted that the quality of the built housing was poor, but the urgent need demanded to hurry. After a decade of mass construction in the Soviet cities started elimination of such disaster as communal flats. Except that living space that was under construction at the expense of the local enterprises and councils, there was also that that it was built to money of ordinary citizens who acquired now the right to join housing cooperatives. At the same time it was necessary to grant the sum which was 15-30% of cost of housing then, having already installed to the apartment, people paid the rest at extremely low rate in 0.5%.

There is no unambiguous assessment of the housing construction which is carried out to the Khruschev's period presently. So, from the pages Komsomolskaya Pravdas it is said that distinctive signs for the standard 5-storey house of the end of the 50th - the beginning of the 60th only two. The first - their huge number. The second - at them is extreme unfitness and inconvenience, 30-35% of wear [7]. It is necessary to agree with these arguments, but it is worth to remember that "five-storey apartment blocks" were calculated for 20 years, and the purpose of mass construction of cheap housing was to bring millions of people who appeared there after the Great Patriotic War out of dugouts, basements and barracks.

N.S. Khrushchev remembered that "the workers-builders who came from the village accommodated in barrack-type hostels with plank beds and with the annex to them in the form of household inconveniences which exasperated toilers after the wearisome working day" [8, page 390]. "Because of improbable need in housing, - N.S. Khrushchev remembered, - we were forced, revising projects, to squeeze out all superfluous quicker to satisfy bigger number of persons in need" [9, page 393]. Khrushchev, explaining lack of elevators in houses, said: "Yes, it is difficult to live without elevator, but it is even more difficult without apartment" [10, page 394]. Such is there was an alternative.

As G. Popov truly noticed, the most important was the fact that Khrushchev rehabilitated such elementary human wants as clothes and food. "New approach, - the author writes, - it was most fully embodied it is aware on housing construction, on own apartment. Even if this apartment was not even if it loomed only in the long term in ten years - the legality of claims for own housing did lawful desire to have the furniture answering to the tastes, moreover, the right to individual tastes, on "I" excellent from "we" was legalized" [11, page 47].

Funds for construction of the general housing stock were formed taking into account real opportunities of everyone, and then apartments were distributed by public organizations, but it is worth to remember that the leading role was played at the same time by opinion and will of administration, first of all party committees. Public priorities in practice were substituted group, contrary to expectations the polarization of the population on living conditions amplified.

J. Hosking "the History of the Soviet Union" writes in the work that possession of the apartment in the cooperative house for the Soviet person became somewhat the sign of an intermediate social status - between privileged elite to which cooperatives were not necessary, and ordinary workers who in the sense of housing depended on employers and local councils. The Soviet society began to be stratified and get new changes [12, page 364].

The monetary reform of 1961 and a tax system led to the fact that all population began to pay housing for a uniform highest rate in relation to 1928. According to Stefan Merl, within the system of fixed minimum prices of essentials and service the great value was attached to the subsidized accommodation payment. The low rent was raised not only from residents of Stalin communal flats, but also from owners of certain apartments [13, page 106]. Despite grandiose scope of construction of houses, a housing crisis it was not succeeded to overcome, remained the happy meaning of the words "warrant for the apartment", "warrant for the room" is clear. As writes

N. Vert, the authorities often used this situation for pressure upon citizens [14, page 479]. In the 60th

distribution of housing was exposed to continuous check, so on May 9, 1963 there was a resolution of Council of ministers of RSFSR "About Streamlining of Distribution of Living Space and Accounting of the Citizens Needing Housing" providing check of already distributed housing. Irreproachable conduct allowed to hope for more or less fast receiving the apartment and, on the contrary, any deviating, the marginal behavior or a protest led moving to the end of turn on housing or even loss of the right to the apartment.

So, living conditions of citizens improved: the certain apartment or the certain house turned into the prevailing type of the city dwelling; the municipal narrowness, barracks, slum housing became destiny not of bulk, but a smaller part of citizens. The scope of housing construction from 1956 to 1963 accepted really grandiose sizes as a result of which national housing stock grew almost twice. It is necessary to tell that the quality of the built housing was poor, but the urgent need demanded to hurry. However it should be noted that the housing crisis did not manage to be overcome.


1. Report of the Central Committee of the CPSU to the XX congress. Moscow. Verbatim record. M, 1956.
2. T. Druzhinina. All for the Soviet person//the Worker. 1958. No. 11.
3. Quickly, cheap, soundly//Worker. 1957. No. 9.
4. In the same place.
5. N.Ya. Bromlya. The standard of living in the USSR (1950-1965)//history Questions. 1966. No. 7.
6. In the same place.
7. K. Mikhaylov. The house which was built by Khrushchev: as to complete them, to reconstruct or... to take down//Komsomolskaya Pravda. 1992. September 5.
8. N.S. Khrushchev. Memoirs. Chosen fragments. M, 1997.
9. In the same place.
10. In the same place.
11. Priests of. Khrushchev's lessons//Dialogue. 1994. No. 8.
12. J. Istoriya's Hosking of the Soviet Union. 1917-1991. M, 1994.
13. Merl St. An economic system and the standard of living in pre-revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union. Expectations and reality//National history. 1998. No. 1.
14. N. Vert. History of the Soviet state. 1990-1991. M, 1995.
Peter Robert
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