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The welfare system in Moldova is going through deep structural reforms. The legacy of the Soviet welfare system, centered on the institutionalization of certain categories of citizens (persons with disabilities, elderly, addicted, homeless, etc.), is still prevalent in the current welfare system. During the post-Soviet transition, the low public investment in the development and maintenance of welfare infrastructure and the massive pauperization rendered the welfare system in this country even more inefficient and cumbersome. Moreover, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, observers denounced a number of cases of human rights violations occurring in some public residential institutions. Starting from the mid-2000s, the Moldovan Government (first and foremost the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection) carried out a strategy aiming at ensuring the social inclusion of vulnerable and formerly stigmatized persons instead of their further institutionalization. This strategy, supported by several international NGOs and programs (e.g. Keystone, Open Society Foundations, etc.) is challenged by a number of significant factors: the poor funding capacity of public authorities, the inefficient management of most welfare institutions, the very recent tradition of the social work profession, the authoritarian welfare mentality and practices, the quite widespread discriminatory stereotypes of the local population against some categories of vulnerable people (e.g. people with disabilities), and not least the passive attitude of the clients themselves towards the social services, which they often continue to associate with a non-existent strong and paternalistic state.
In conclusion, we will present case material regarding a public residential institution in Chisinau (the Hosting and Guiding Center for Homeless People) founded in 2004, will discuss its successes, but also its challenges and further development perspectives.