Public Defender’s Statement on Improper Living Conditions in Social Homes of Gori, Ozurgeti and Kutaisi
In February and March 2022, the monitoring group of the Public Defender of Georgia inspected the social homes for homeless people in Gori, Ozurgeti and Kutaisi and found that the conditions there do not even minimally meet the right to adequate housing.
The problems identified in the Ozurgeti and Kutaisi social homes are discussed in the 2021 parliamentary report of the Public Defender of Georgia. In addition, the Public Defender addressed all three local self-governments in writing and demanded immediate resettlement of the beneficiaries from the facilities and provision of alternative living spaces appropriate for human dignity. Unfortunately, all three municipalities disregarded the Public Defender's request and thus the right of the homeless to proper housing was once again neglected.
The situation in the Gori social housing, which is located in the building of the former drug addiction treatment center, is particularly worrying. The building that houses about 80 families has not yet been transformed into a residence. The residents live in makeshift rooms that are not suitable for permanent residence. The building does not have sewage or drainage systems; there are no individual bathrooms or kitchen. Residents do not have access to clean water. Th above conditions make it impossible to maintain hygiene or safely store food. The extremely poor sanitary-hygienic conditions contribute to the spread of parasitological diseases, insects, rodents and reptiles, which pose a particular threat to the lives and health of the residents.
According to the monitoring group of the Public Defender of Georgia, the proper housing standards are completely neglected in the Gori social housing. As a result, the residents have to live in disturbingly poor, degrading conditions. The infrastructural environment is completely inconvenient for persons with disabilities. Due to the inaccessibility of the physical environment, people with limited mobility and wheelchair users are locked on high floors for months and their right to movement is restricted. Severe sanitary-hygienic conditions are especially humiliating for persons with disabilities, who are unable to take care of themselves and have no access to the services of assistants or caregivers.
The Ozurgeti social housing, which is located in the building of the former maternity hospital, cannot even minimally satisfy the right to adequate housing. Despite the renovation works, about 50 families still live in extremely unbearable conditions. The drainage system is faulty in the building and the air is polluted as a result of high humidity. The situation is particularly difficult on the first floor of the building, where the floor is damaged, the walls and ceiling are damped, water is leaking during the rain and the air gets so heavy that it becomes periodically impossible to breathe. Residents, especially children and older people, often become ill to the above. The building has no access road, the outer perimeter is in poor state and there are no entertainment spaces for children.
The Kutaisi social housing is located in the former telecommunications building. 90 families live in constant noise, without privacy. Living space is insufficient due to small area and the building is overcrowded; Due to the lack of a drainage system, the air is constantly moist and polluted. The building fails to fulfill the functions of housing and to provide decent conditions for the residents.
The Public Defender emphasizes that the right to proper housing does not only mean having a roof above, that is, providing shelter. The right to adequate housing implies the right to live in safe, peaceful and dignified conditions anywhere, as well as full access to services for persons with disabilities. Accordingly, the mentioned right involves not only providing housing, but the obligation to provide proper housing, which is unavailable for the residents of the above-mentioned facilities.
The Public Defender of Georgia once again calls on the City Halls of Gori, Ozurgeti and Kutaisi municipalities to consider the realization of the right to proper housing of the homeless and socially vulnerable families as quickly as possible, which in this case should involve their resettlement and provision of alternative living space appropriate for human dignity.
 2021 Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender of Georgia, chapter: Right to proper housing, pp. 229-233, available at: https://ombudsman.ge/res/docs/2022040413242699860.pdf (last viewed: 29.06.2022).
 Letters Nos. 04-4/3644, 04-4/4637 and 04-4/4638 of 05.04.2022, 03.05.2022 and 03.05.2022 respectively.