To the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Com. Leonid Ilich Brezhnev:
In the course of some years work as a volunteer inspector I have seen a number of housing problems both in my own Housing Office 12 and in other Housing Offices. I would like to point out that a lot of people in the areas surrounding Leningrad have built themselves dachas which are counted legally as "summer dachas" while most of them are good for year-round use. These dachas are either wood, stucco, or stone (stucco), some of them are exploited as rentals in wintertime, and the only reason the other dacha owners don't do this is that they are afraid of getting into trouble (as they say) because all of them have housing in Leningrad. The local authorities could (on the basis of the law requiring dacha owners to vacate their city units) establish the suitability of these dachas for year-round living. Then 80 percent of the dacha stock would become permanent housing stock. This law would improve the housing situation of the working masses of Leningrad and other cities.
We cannot overlook those people living alone who have 20 to 35 square meters of space per person when the norm is 5 to 9 square meters. There are a lot of cases when one person has an apartment of two or three rooms (with residency permits for the apartment issued to additional tenants "without the right to living space"). We need a law that would establish a limit of living space of a maximum of no more than 15 square meters per person. This would also help free an impressive amount of living space, around 35 percent.
By taking this up we could improve the difficult living situation of the workers of Leningrad.
Everyone knows "that nobody ever built a palace through his own honest labor." That's why it is so important to bring rightful order to our housing problem. It would be good if this proposal found its rightful reflection in legislation and could be applied in reality as soon as possible. A great many people who don't deserve it have two residences: their dacha and their city space, they live like gentry and profiteer on their dachas.
Our legislation has to go forward together with life, not contrary to it. It shouldn't be defending people who have their living space requirements satisfied twice over (dacha owners) but help working people who are living with three square meters per person. Dachas that have been built without the approval of the National Bank Financial Inspector should be nationalized.
Volunteer Inspector Rybalkin February 28, 1961
This radio program has used documents from the archives of the Russian Federation and from the Russian State Archive for Social and Political History.
Cited with permission from Radio Svoboda from material available at the site www.svoboda.org/programs/hd/2003.asp.