The mayor of Tallinn sent a letter this week to the national government asking for an additional 65 million kroons ($4.33 million) to accommodate up to 800 family units facing possible eviction from the city's Mustamae district.
The Estonian Ministry of Finance gave the city 5.4 million kroons on July 23 to provide housing for the occupants of 43 apartments that were allegedly privatized without regard to the residents, said ministry spokeswoman Katryn Jaakson. And the city may receive about 1 million kroons more to accommodate 20 more tenants facing eviction from another building, she said.
"But this money is definitely not a solution to the whole problem," said Allan Alukula, a spokesman for Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar. "It will cover less than one-tenth of the whole need of the tenants. But the city is thinking positively that the state will award more money."
At press time the Ministry of Finance hadn't yet received the city's letter asking for additional money.
Jaakson said the money already granted to the city must be used to move and accommodate people from the Mustamae buildings into apartments of equal size and value. The current apartments average 18 square meters and each accommodates two people, she said.
The Estonian government sold the buildings to Zingli Hotel and OU Fennovara in the mid-1990s. Legally, the tenants should have had the right to buy the apartments before these companies purchased them. Police are investigating whether or not the tenants' rights were overlooked by the state.
On July 8, the tenants began asking the city to help them avoid eviction because relations with landlords grew strained. Police are also investigating three cases of OU Fennovara's illegally evicting residents, a spokeswoman from the Tallinn Police Department said.
Last week, the tenants sent two letters to the mayor requesting privatization of the dormitories or money for replacement housing. Alakula said the government could not take the property away from the current owners and give it to the tenants.
"The property was given already to two private entities, and the government can't redistribute property in this way," he said.
But he said the city still had an obligation to help the residents so it requested money from the Finance Ministry.
"The city is in no way claiming responsibility for creating the problem," Alakula said. "But we are required to provide aid."