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City Proposes Legislation to Help Homeless and Fight Vagrancy

Under the proposed law, homelessness and vagrancy will be clearly defined, with different consequences for both. Andrei Makhonin

Moscow's social services department has drafted legislation aimed at addressing vagrancy and helping homeless people to return to normal life, a news report said Monday.

The legislation's authors propose to introduce clear definitions for vagrancy and homelessness in Russian law, Kommersant reported.

A person who does not have access to housing or a registration at a temporary residence will be considered homeless. Vagrants will be defined as those who live on the street, who do not have jobs and whose appearance in public places "is degrading for human dignity and violates rules of personal hygiene."

Homeless people will be encouraged to contact social centers, where they will be provided with temporary registration. This will give them access to public services, the right to vote, and the chance to find work. The authorities also plan to provide social housing for them.

Vagrants, on the other hand, will initially be detained. If they can be identified they will be sent to their last place of registration, but if not, they will be placed in facilities reminiscent of Soviet-style workhouses, a social services department spokesman said. Vagrants will be conscripted to the Armed Forces if they are the appropriate age, the spokesman said.

The legislation's authors estimate that the measures will cost the federal and regional budgets 3.5 billion rubles ($106.4 million).

The draft is to be discussed at the Public Chamber Monday, before being submitted to Moscow City Duma and finally the State Duma.

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