Importance of housing provision in Ukraine

July 2012

ResearchIntegration of refugees in Republic of Belarus, Moldova and UkraineStrategy of actionsshowed that problem of housing, especially in big cities, causes great difficulties for citizens, however for refugees this problem is more acute and influences upon more sufficient percentage of this category. Housing needs considerable financial resources as rent payment is the biggest part of expenditures for singles as well as for families. There is no housing financed by government for the refugees as well as there is no access to subsidized housing (excluding Temporary Holding Facilities served for persons seeking asylum, where  some refugees who are the most vulnerable can live during definite period of time). In the frames of the first stage of “Project of local integration of refugees in Odessa region international grants were received for building or restoration of hosing.
Few of the refugees own housing and majority of them face difficulties while looking for suitable official place of residence (in particular, not many house owners want people to know that they rent out a flat in order to avid tax payment, and many refuse foreigners at all). Present situation with housing causes problems with local police (district police), who unreasonably make home visits or in extraordinary situations act in such a way that refugees regard this to be an attempt to “clean out” the district from refugees (or asylum seekers or from definite foreigners).

Many refugees live in conditions, which do not correspond to standards and they cannot afford to have something better. The rent payment taken from refugees often exceeds the sum citizens pay. As it was established, a spread practice for majority of refugees (and local residents) is absence of written rent agreements as the house owners, as a rule, do not want to declare their income. Considering high rent payment and cost of life, most part of the refugee families cannot have any economies. For housing, which is not big and in bad conditions, one can not economy much, but savings on food undermines refugees’ health. Living cooped, with other refugees, closeness to sick and alcoholics, absence of solitude, bad isolation and anti-sanitary conditions, insufficient meal ration – all these cause rather sad social problems. They are very hard to solve because refugees often work unofficially in order to cover the expenditures. Even if they get more or less satisfactory job, however, they hardly make both ends meet. Any unlucky chance or serious problem with health can mean the loss of income and debts for them.

It should be marked that responsibility for presenting housing to refugees lies upon Ukrainian government. It is said about also in the research “Integration of refugees in Republic of Belarus Moldova and Ukraine – Strategy of Actions”, in the frames of which some practical and strategic recommendations were elaborated concerning housing provision for refugees. These are the recommendations:

1.  National policy of integration must include statements about housing for newcomers as well as for existing vulnerable groups of refugees. Such statements must be directed upon the avoidance of social problems connected with over-population and accumulation of refugees, especially in the capital, as well as upon the broadening of refugees’ opportunities for integration into local society. Remembering about rights of the refugees, in particular the right for free movement, yet one can determine the places with accessible housing and sufficient job opportunities in order to direct there refugees with corresponding support and aid.

2. Inform newcomers about places, where accessible housing can be found; stimulate the interest in moving to these regions assisting in employment and education; allot subsidies on it; propose accessible housing to those who agrees to leave the capital.

3. More vulnerable category of refuges (who will always depend on the government – elderly, sick, etc..) should get housing, mainly in the capital reserving or building definite number of social housing or hostels specially on this purpose in coordination with donors and other organizations (UNDP, UNESCO, World Bank, EU).

4. Aiming at assignment of accessible housing to the most vulnerable or marginalized categories on the whole, an opportunity should be examined as to conduct of researches on housing and adopted decisions in this sphere (it is land allotment, subsidized credit schemes). Such a research could be became a base for new programmes of accessible housing for the refugees as well as for vulnerable or marginalized social groups and also attract support of international organizations and bilateral donors.

Information is presented by Regional

Representation of UNHCR in Belarus,

Moldova and Ukraine on the materials

 of the research “Integration of refugees

 in Republic of Belarus, Moldova

and Ukraine – Strategy of Actions”.