The very first problem that IDPs have faced and continue to face is search for new housing. Hundreds of thousands of people cannot return home because of the occupation, so they have to rent housing the prices for which grow from year to year. The state has been trying to resolve this problem for several years, but so far there are no tangible results.
For example, according to the Law "On ensuring the rights and freedoms of internally displaced persons", the state is obliged to provide free accommodation for temporary use to the displaced persons (only utilities are paid). However, local authorities, who are responsible for implementing this rule, in most cases refer to the lack of free housing. In addition, now it is increasingly possible to hear that families of displaced persons are asked to free temporary housing and dishoused.
It is not for the first year when the government announces preferential loans for house-buying by displaced persons, but so far there has been no progress in implementing these plans. In addition, not many can afford to buy an apartment on credit, even at a very low interest rate.
Modular towns for displaced persons also do not solve the problem of permanent housing as they do not have the conditions for a full-fledged life, - mainly disabled people, pensioners and families with many children, who do not have the means to rent an apartment, live there. Furthermore, these towns have long been crammed to the eyeballs and the opening of new ones is not planned.
There is a number of strategies for providing internally displaced persons with temporary or permanent housing, but in practice, it all comes down to the fact that people have to solve their problems on their own, and often - to return to the occupied territory where there is still place to live .
This problem remains urgent because in connection with the worsening economic situation in the occupied territory, the number of IDPs registered in Ukraine has increased in recent months. It increased by 5 thousand people only in March.
Recently, "Affordable Housing" program for displaced people was adopted. OstroV checked whether housing can really become accessible to internally displaced persons and how this program is implemented in practice.
What is the main point of the program
In March 2017, the Verkhovna Rada amended Law No. 1954 "On the prevention of global financial crisis impact on the development of construction sector and housing construction", launching "Affordable Housing" program for ATO participants and IDPs. Six months later, the Cabinet of Ministers approved these amendments and even allocated money for the program's implementation.
The main point of the program is that ATO participants and IDPs can buy primary housing (newly-built buildings) for 50% of the cost (the latter half is compensated by the state) or they receive a mortgage loan at a preferential 7% per annum.
Let us note that the part of the program on preferential crediting has not started its operation as of today but there is a progress with newly-built buildings.
In 2017, $1.15 million were allocated and 89 families have already participated in the program. This year, $3.8 million are allocated and according to preliminary forecasts, 300-350 families will be able to count on apartments. These are not only displaced persons but ATO participants and young families as well.
"89 families have already concluded contracts with developers. The State Fund for the Promotion of Youth Housing transferred their funds to the developer within three days, the displaced person had to pay his part in a ten-day period, but I know that the developers made concessions and provided an extension", - head of the All-Ukrainian association of IDPs Ruslan Kalinin told OstroV.
It is worth pointing out that not all the displaced persons will be able to take part in "Affordable Housing" program.
Firstly, you should not have any housing in the controlled territory of Ukraine or its total area should be less than 13.65 m² for each member of the family. The presence of housing in the temporarily occupied territory is of no importance.
Secondly, the average monthly income (with all revenues, payments and assistance), together with the income of all family members per person, should not exceed the fivefold amount of the average monthly salary in the respective region calculated by the State Statistics Committee. For example, the average monthly salary in the Kyiv oblast in December 2017 was $333, in the Donetsk oblast - $378.
National assistance also has its own area and price restrictions.
Firstly, it is 21 square meters for 1 person + 10.5 square meters for family. For example, a family of three can apply for a 73.5 sq.m. apartment (21 sq.m.*3+10 sq.m.).
Secondly, there is the maximum cost of 1 square meter, depending on the region where the housing is located. It is calculated as follows:
Maximum cost = indirect cost of 1 sq.m. x settlement coefficient
1.75 - Kyiv, Dnipro, Odessa, Kharkiv
1.5 - for cities-regional centers and cities of oblast subordinance with a population of more than 300 thousand people;
1.25 - for cities of oblast subordinance with a population from 100 thousand to 300 thousand people;
1 - for other settlements.
For example, the indirect cost of 1 sq.m. for the Donetsk oblast is $432. If you search for an apartment in Mariupol, multiply $432 by 1.5 coefficient and get the maximum cost of square meter in Mariupol in the amount of $648.
So a family of three people can buy an apartment in Mariupol for $47.6 (the maximum area of 73.5 sq.m. multiplied by the indirect cost of 1 sq.m. $648). The state will pay half, that is $23.8 thousand, and the future owner of the real estate will pay the rest. But this does not mean that the family cannot buy an apartment of a smaller or larger area (the state will still pay a maximum of $23.8 thousand, and the displaced person will have to pay the rest).
You can choose real estate properties only from the list that was approved by the Interdepartmental Commission of the Ministry of Regional Development. IDPs are not able to influence the compilation of this list. It is this aspect that caused the most criticism among potential program participants and non-governmental organizations.
"Have you read the terms of "Affordable Housing" program? There are only apartments of certain developers and only where you were determined to live! In case with my family of seven people, it is far from the regional center in a depressed town without work and prospects for my three children! Why are not we allowed to choose where to raise our children? Why do not they consider the options of secondary housing? These are the regular scams with their developers. Why do I need an apartment somewhere in the village? And no options. Our family has already moved 7 times over a period of four years. Prices are constantly rising and we are not able to rent expensive housing, and since we are not only displaced persons, but also have small children, we need a kindergarten, a school and an access to work. I just believe no one after so many promises and zero result. We are abandoned! We thought first of all about children, and now we live in a cold and moldy house that is under sale. We can land on the street level at any time. The state helps the rich", - displaced person from Luhansk Halyna is indignant.
Non-governmental organizations are actively proposing to change the procedure for selecting developers, so that the IDPs can choose where to live. They also initiate the possibility of choosing a secondary housing, which is not participating in the program at the present time.
"We also offer the initiative to participate in the secondary housing program, but so far, we do not see the support that this is possible. We will go step by step: at first, we want to ensure that the displaced persons can choose their housing in the primary market themselves and, in case of successful implementation of this initiative, it will be possible to talk about including of secondary housing in this list", - Ruslan Kalinin offers.
How to participate in "Affordable Housing" program
"Considering that this is the first program that allows solving housing problems of certain categories of displaced persons, it generated lots of buzz. At the initial stage, that is, by the end of 2017, there were more than 2000 people wishing to participate in the program, at the moment, there are more than 5000 and I predict that this figure will increase to 10 thousand by the end of the year", - the head of the All-Ukrainian association of IDPs believes.
To be more precise, as of April 6, 2018, 5301 applications from those wishing to participate in the "Affordable Housing" program were registered, of which 76% (more than 4000 applications) are applications from the internally displaced persons.
"There is a great excitement in Kyiv. The situation is different in other regions. There are fewer people because, first of all, not all people believe that this program will be financed. They see the form in which the program is being financed now and do not hurry to file documents", - Ruslan Kalinin says.
So, to participate in the program, you need to file the following package of documents:
1. Passport copy.
2. TIN copy.
3. Application for state support.
4. Copy of the certificate of registration of an internally displaced person.
5. Information from the State Register of Rights to Real Estate on the ownership of housing for each member of the family (in paper form). The fact sheet can be requested via the "Cabinet of electronic services" https://kap.minjust.gov.ua/services/registry
6. A copy of the marriage certificate (if married).
7. Documents required for determining solvency, namely:
- a fact sheet of income;
- documents confirming the income of all family members with the indication of their amount (fact sheet from the place of work on the amount of income for the last 6 months, certificate of the territorial body of the Pension Fund of Ukraine on the amount of pension payments for the last 6 months, etc.).
A full list of documents can be found on the website. https://www.molod-kredit.gov.ua/zhytlovi-prohramy/dostupne-zhytlo/neobkhidni-dokumenty
All necessary documents can be submitted to one of the regional offices of the State Fund for the Promotion of Youth Housing or online. You can choose accommodation when it will be your turn in the line.
Money is allocated, but cannot be used
Despite the fact that $3.8 million was allocated for the implementation of the Affordable Housing program in 2018, the IDPs can only register in the queue. There is no practical implementation of the project yet. The program is hampered by the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Housing, which is still unable to approve the distribution of these funds.
"As of April 12, 2018, the Ministry of Regional Development has not approved the allocation of budget funds for the provision of state support for the construction (acquisition) of affordable housing between administrative units", - the State Fund for the Promotion of Youth Housing told OstroV.
They also said that there are no funds on the accounts of the State Fund for the Promotion of Youth Housing and its regional offices for the implementation of the above-mentioned budget program.
"The Ministry of Regional Development does not even try to promote and implement the mortgage program. There is almost no hope that this program will work. We had a private conversation with the Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine Serhiy Marchenko, who said that if the Ministry of Regional Development wanted to finance the program, they could do it, there is enough money. He said that energy efficiency programs are much more important, that's why a lot of money is going there", - says Yulia Dryuk-Ilyashenko, leader of the public organization of IDPs Mij Dim Ua.
In her opinion, delaying the program may be related to corruption.
"The Ministry is hurling all initiatives of the Fund, they are absolutely hampering everything. Why does the ministry try to choose objects? Why cannot we choose them? It's like some kind of corrupt scheme, they probably have their facilities and developers, whom they want to promote", - the activist said.
But the problem is not only in the delay in the receipt of funds, but in the compilation of the list of objects for participation in the Affordable Housing program. The head of the All-Ukrainian association of IDPs Ruslan Kalinin believes that in fact, not so many developers are interested in participating in the program. For example, in 2017, Kyiv managed to find only two real estate developers, with whom people were able to sign contracts. Accordingly, at first it is necessary to change the very procedure for selecting real estate objects.
"The funds should be received this month, but the question is not just about that, but about the procedure for choosing a developer. Even if the funds are transferred to the State Fund for the Promotion of Youth Housing account, we remain without an approved procedure for choosing a developer. The old one was approved only for 2017. Accordingly, the Ministry of Regional Development should announce a new competition. There is no procedure for now", - he told OstroV.
While activists are trying to achieve practical implementation of the program, people's deputies have already aimed at increasing the financing of the program this year.
Additional funding of the program
At present, the Verkhovna Rada has registered four bills on the additional funding of the program for 2018. All of them boil down to the need to allocate additional funds for the implementation of programs both for affordable housing and for preferential lending. For example, the bill of People's Deputy Natalia Veselova provides $68.9 million for additional funding of the program.
The explanatory note to the bill says that it is necessary simply to redistribute state budget expenditures: to increase the costs of the general fund of the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine by reducing the expenses of the general fund of the Ministry Internal Affairs of Ukraine.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry for Temporary Occupied Territories IDPs have already stated that they do not support any of the types of possible additional funding of the program.
"It should be noted that to date, all the state budget expenditures are allocated and it is not possible to find sources of additional costs", - the Ministry of Finance replied to the official request for additional funding.
Along with this, in informal conversations, officials assure social activists that in case of overfulfilment of the budget or the filling of special funds with sufficient funds, money can still be allocated.
"If there is an oversupply of the state budget in the first half of the year, these funds can be allocated to finance the program, but there is almost no hope for that", - Yulia Dryuk-Ilyashenko says.
Head of the All-Ukrainian association of IDPs Ruslan Kalinin is more optimistic about this issue.
"We consulted with the Ministry of Finance, tried to think of where to find additional funds for this program, and decided to take money from a special fund, where they keep funds, confiscated from corrupt officials", - he said.
However, he notes that if the Ministry of Regional Development does not approve the procedure and the program does not start working in April or May, the chances of obtaining additional financing will be negligible.
"If the issue is not solved during April-May, we will not see any changes to the budget for 2018. We will simply be told that we could not use even the allocated $3.8 million. Everyone needs a successful pilot project, so these two months will be key and decisive", - Ruslan said.
The IDPs created a group in the Telegram messenger, where they discuss the current news of the program and even plan to hold a rally to draw the authorities' attention to their problems.
P.S: On April 18, public activists met with representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development, who told them that they were considering changes in the procedure for selecting real estate objects for the Affordable Housing program. Until these changes are accepted, the implementation of the program will, in fact, be frozen.
"The Ministry of Regional Development said they were unhappy with the way the procedure for selecting housing was carried out, so they decided to improve it. They want the IDPs to choose their own apartments and until they approve these changes, the money will not be allocated. It is not known how long this process will take. It is possible that the program will not be implemented this year", - said the participant of the meeting, Yulia Dryuk-Ilyashenko, leader of the public organization of IDPs Mij Dim Ua.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV