Vienna – Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, approximately 1.4 million residential units have suffered damage, with around one-third deemed irreparable.
With 3.7 million people internally displaced within Ukraine and 4.6 million returnees, the provision of affordable housing and reconstruction is a priority.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and international experts are working toward establishing a sustainable housing rental system by sharing Europe-wide best practices with municipalities in Ukraine.
This week in Vienna over 70 representatives from academia, government, state, and international institutions in Europe came together to discuss affordable housing with municipal authorities from all over Ukraine. The event was organised in cooperation with the European Investment Bank and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KfW), which also contributed to the discussion.
“Access to adequate and dignified housing has long been a priority for IOM to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation required for sustainable recovery,” IOM Regional Director for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Manfred Profazi, stated at the Vienna event.
Estimates of the cost of direct damage to buildings and public infrastructure in Ukraine totals USD 135 billion, and this figure is increasing as the war continues.
“In the context of its accession to the EU, Ukraine has a unique opportunity to leverage the extensive experience of EU Member States in the sector of social and affordable housing,” said Lionel Rapaille, Director for EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Countries at EIB. “Bringing the European Investment Bank’s expertise as a leading international financier and as the EU Bank, we are well-positioned to help Ukraine transform its affordable housing sector, meeting the needs of its people effectively.”
One of the Ukrainian municipalities participating in the IOM housing project is Khmilnyk, a spa town in central Ukraine.
At the start of the full-scale invasion, Yulia, her husband and teenage son relocated there from the eastern city of Kharkiv, which has suffered intense shelling all through the war. At first, the family was hosted by relatives, but after a few months, they craved their own space.
“Of course, it is financially difficult, but there are no collective centres we could stay at. Also, creating normal conditions for my son is my priority," says Yulia.
Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Khmilnyk hosted about 12,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) like Yulia. Almost two years later, up to 6,000 displaced people remain, increasing the population of the town by almost 20 per cent. A recent survey of IDPs conducted by local authorities revealed that housing and employment are their main concerns.
The homes of thousands of displaced people were damaged by hostilities, so it is difficult for them to return, even if they come from areas controlled by Ukraine. "When asked about their temporary accommodation, people reported the lack of amenities such as hot water, gas, sanitation or internet. More than 40 per cent of IDPs surveyed in Khmilnyk said that they rent without contracts, or feel that the owners can evict them. Many live in housing that is not suitable for winter," said Serhii Redchyk, Khmilnyk’s Deputy Mayor.
“This innovative approach to affordable municipal housing sets out to create an environment where everyone feels safe and lives in humane conditions. Finding solutions will contribute to the comprehensive development of our community,” he added.
Among the topics of discussion and workshops during the Vienna event were financing mechanisms, legal frameworks, compliance, best practices from other countries, and implementation plans.
Since 24 February 2022, over 4.4 million individuals have been supported by IOM through shelter and housing activities in Ukraine. IOM’s response has included life-saving shelter, transitional housing solutions, repair and reconstruction of damaged homes, and support for critical infrastructure. IOM's current housing projects, financed by the German Government through KfW, include the construction of residential facilities in five regions of Ukraine alongside the establishment of an affordable rental mechanism for displaced people. About 2,000 flats for approximately 6,000 people will be constructed under this initiative.
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