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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Allocates First Payments For 'Our Home' Construction

The Russian government said Thursday it planned to set aside 67 trillion rubles ($13.4 billion) over the next four years for its ambitious Own Home federal housing program that encourages the use of affordable materials like wood for house construction.

Under the proposal, more than 13 trillion rubles from the federal budget will be allocated to the program, and 12 trillion would be provided by the regions, said Construction Minister Yevgeny Basin in remarks reported by Interfax.

Unspecified "off-budget" sources are expected to cover the costs worth 39 trillion rubles, and Russian enterprises would donate more than 2 trillion rubles, he was quoted as saying.

The program, first announced by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at a government meeting at the end of February, calls for a return to the traditional Russian building material, wood, on the assumption that a timber house would cost 20 to 25 percent less than a brick house.

President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree authorizing the program at the end of March, one among a series of spending promises he has made during a tough campaign for re-election. So far, no money has been officially allocated.

"Housing must be cheap and affordable," Chernomyrdin was quoted by Interfax as saying at a government session.

The program calls for the immediate development of a system for long-term crediting.

According to the document, cheap housing will account for at least 40 percent of the total residential space built in the first stage of the program, which would end in 1997. The government plans to increase this proportion 60 percent to 70 percent by 1999, and 80 percent by the end of the century.

A total of 5 percent of the funds available for the Own House program will be used for loans to people who would choose to build their homes.