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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

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In a city with about 100, 000 homeless people, 12 beds don't go very far toward solving the problem.


But that is all the Russian government has to offer. Even more unusual, the sole shelter is located in the former reception area of a psychiatric hospital off a dirt road in northeast Moscow.


"The people who come here want to renew normal lives", said Lubov Sukhareva, the administrator on duty at Psychiatric-Neurological Institute No. 23, home to 508 patients. "There is no violence. They try to help each other, sharing food. There are no greedy people here".


Many inhabitants are regulars since the shelter, which only operates overnight, opened in June.


There is a convicted murderer, a Georgian grandmother, a thrice-patented inventor, a painter-poet, and a "student of Soviet psychological torture".


Mariya Dagbarsheva, 72, sits, legs dangling, on a cot beside two weathered-looking ex-convicts. The atmosphere is convivial. The scene is far from the despair and defeat commonly found among the homeless inhabiting the train stations, their most frequent hangout.


The homeless people live in neat, green-painted double rooms, with iron cots, a television set, and scant personal belongings, mainly Christian paintings.


Because so few homeless people receive assistance, they get individual counselling that helps them find jobs, Sukhareva said. Five of them have already found apartments and will move soon.


Alexander Veremeyev, 45, who spent 21 years in jail, lost his apartment in 1972 when, he said, he was convicted in Georgia of murder in self-defense.


"I want a corner or a room to sleep - not even a flat, and I want a job where I can make some decent money".


As for the patients he lives with, Veremeyev said: "They are really sick, different people. I don't understand why and how they got here".


The painter-poet dressed chicly in black, his shirt buttoned to the top, with gray wavy hair and thick black-framed glasses, said he identifies with the dispossessed.


"I have always fought against the Bolsheviks and the fascists", said Nikolai Ostasha, 58, clutching a large satchel stuffed with paintings, and poems, some dedicated to President Boris Yeltsin.


A sloppy, suit-clad inventor, Nikolai Sederenko, 55, who gave up his flat in the Far East to move to Moscow, agreed.


"Anybody with real ideas always has trouble", says Sederenko, who said he has patented a cure tor cancer, which was supposed to have killed him 12 years ago.