Housing Sector

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Housing Sector


in the USSR, the segment of the economy concerned with meeting the housing and social needs of the population and of settling the population in accord with the needs of the country’s growing national economy.

After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the buildings of the capitalist owners were expropriated and turned over to the city Soviets (decree of Aug. 20, 1918, of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee). Workers were moved out of their basements, shanties, and dwellings on the outskirts of cities into the buildings on a mass scale. The decree of Aug. 8, 1921, of the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars) of the RSFSR authorized local Soviets to turn over state-owned residential buildings to collectives of residents on long-term rent agreements. The restoration of industry and socialist industrialization of the country caused a great influx of people to the cities, which created a serious housing shortage. Together with organizing housing services and restoring damaged buildings (as a result of World War I and the Civil War and military intervention, about 14 percent of all housing was out of use), new housing construction began in both the old and new regions of the country.

Constantly attending to the housing sector, the Communist Party defined its development as a two-sided task. On the one hand housing development is one of the compulsory conditions for expanded socialist reproduction, because socialist industrialization of the country and correct organization of productive forces in its territory are impossible without increasing housing resources; on the other hand, an increase in housing resources is a necessary condition for satisfying the growth in the domestic and cultural needs of the population. The unity of the two aspects, the production and consumption aspects, in reproduction of housing resources is the most important characteristic of the socialist housing sector. In the USSR, housing construction is carried out on the basis of the state national-economic plan with regard to the volume of housing, improvement in quality, and territorial placement.

As a result of the high rate of growth in housing, the urban housing resources of the USSR have grown 8.5 times during the years of Soviet power. At the end of 1970 the USSR had 1,529 million sq m of housing space, compared to 180 million sq m in 1913. Housing represents almost 25 percent of the total value of the fixed capital of the country’s entire national economy. By type of ownership all urban housing is divided into collectivized housing (70 percent) and housing owned privately by citizens. Collectivized housing consists of state housing and housing belonging to cooperative and public organizations. State housing resources are divided into the housing under local Soviets and the housing managed by enterprises, organizations, and institutions (departmental housing).

The housing sector includes residential buildings with the accompanying capital equipment; the collectivized dachas; and the construction, repair, production, supply, transport, and other systems that serve housing resources and are included in the system of housing management as its material-technical base. According to the law of Oct. 17, 1937, adopted by the Central Executive Committee and the Sovnarkom (Council of People’s Commissars) of the USSR entitled On Maintaining Housing Resources and Improving Housing Management in the Cities, overall control of the technical and sanitary state of housing, no matter who it belongs to, is assigned to the local Soviets. In their turn the local Soviets manage and bear responsibility for preservation only of the housing they manage; housing managed by state enterprises, organizations, and institutions is the responsibility of these respective bodies. The local Soviets have administrations of housing management to carry out the housing functions assigned to them. In large and very large cities, housing administration is directly managed by an executive committee of the soviet of working people’s deputies with the status of an independent administration or division, whereas in other cities it is included in the division of municipal services. Housing resources that are managed by enterprises, organizations, and institutions are controlled by the housing and municipal divisions of the ministries and departments.

According to the Constitution of the USSR, questions of housing management are within the competence of the Union republics, which have ministries of housing and municipal services that include housing administrations. The housing sector is an integral part of the USSR national economy. Coordination between planning for the housing sector and the national economic plan, as well as the direction and amount of financing for the housing sector in the state budget, is provided for by laws and by government decrees based on those laws.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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