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Homeless family fined for breaking the law

By Natalie Osipovi
Friday, November 29
A homeless family has been fined 10,000 lari for erecting a carriage-shelter on government owned land. Having no job, the mother and daughter depend on their state social allowance to survive.

Several years ago and with nowhere to live, single mother Marina Karmazanashvili erected a shelter on government owned land. Now, Tbilisi City Hall has asked Karmazanashvili to demolish the wooden structure and to pay a fine for having illegally used government property.

Karmazanashvili cannot pay the fine and if she demolishes the house she will have no place to live. The issue will be decided in court in January 2014.

Karmazanashvili has asked various government bodies, including Tbilisi City Hall, to help her find a shelter for herself and her daughter. She has asked the Mayor’s Office if they would be willing to give her permission to live at government property.

Tbilisi city council member Jaba Samushia generally opposes squatting on government owned land. However, he thinks that Tbilisi City Hall should consider Karmazanashvili's case on an individual basis.

Samushia has asked Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava to consider apportioning more money in the Tbilisi budget for those socially vulnerable people who are semi-itinerant.

According to Human Rights' House, the municipal government does little to help Tbilisi's socially vulnerable. Human Rights' House argues that individuals such as Karmazanashvili are forced to break the law in order to survive. Instead of solving the problem, officials use repressive and violent methods to evict homeless people.

According to the fourth article of the Georgian Law about Social Support, a homeless person is defined as "someone who has no permanent place to live and who is registered in the local self-governmental office as homeless."

Also, according to the 18th article of the same law, "The office of the local municipal government has an obligation to provide homeless people with shelter."

Human Rights' House provides free legal assistance to socially unprotected citizens. The NGO 42nd Article of the Constitution is among the members of Human Rights' House.

Attorney Nikoloz Legashvili argues that it is officials' responsibility to provide homeless people with housing.