The war has exposed many problems in the housing sector and exacerbated the need to reform it. Millions of people who have moved in search of a safer place have found shelter in gyms, kindergartens, community centers, which are not full-fledged housing. Social housing could solve the problems with their settlement, but this sphere in Ukraine has numerous problems.
Social housing is housing that the state leases or transfers for ownership to certain groups of population for an affordable price. It should not be confused with the form of housing policy of communist societies, when housing was actually donated, because in Europe social housing mostly functions according to the rental principle.
Situation in Ukraine
There is no publicly available general information on the amount of social housing in Ukraine. It is known that as of January 2021, only 12 oblasts had programs for its development, and as of 2019, more than 800,000 people were in line.
Yes, we do have a Fund of housing stock of social appointment, but there is no much housing in it, and the sphere has been critically underfunded for years. All because the state concentrated on the construction and procurement of housing for private ownership. This approach is economically disadvantageous and socially unfair. Instead, housing could be leased for long-term cheap rentals.
How does it function abroad?
It functions differently in each country. The social housing boom followed World War II. Housing policy in post-war Western Europe was quite sustainable, with no fundamental changes. And now, of course, the redistribution of funds for housing policies in developed countries has slowed, but social housing funds still exist in almost all EU and OECD countries.
And despite the variety of social housing, it takes up a significant share of the total housing stock. In OECD and EU member states, the share of social housing can reach 20%. This share is even higher among rental housing in Europe — more than 50%. Interestingly, in the former socialist countries, the number of social housing funds is quite low.
What should we do?
Housing problems can be solved. But building social housing should be part of a comprehensive, fair housing policy aimed at forming transparent markets, affordable housing, and sustainable urban communities.
What the Transparent Cities program recommends:
- Identifying the real housing concerns of citizens.
- Transferring social housing to the management of individual municipal enterprises or non-profit agencies.
- Attracting various sources of income from the housing stock (seized property of russians, restoration of unsuitable housing, international assistance, etc.).
- Creating public-private partnership projects in the field of social housing.
- Changing the general approach of housing policy — to stimulate the formation of affordable rents rather than the subsidization of private property.
The rebuilding of our cities offers a chance for fairer and more affordable housing for Ukrainians through the development of social housing. European integration of Ukraine also opens many new opportunities for solving forgotten problems.
Read more about social housing policies in the world and their features in Ukraine in the study.