Building Ukraine back better requires affordable, inclusive and green housing: report

A sound concept for affordable housing established early in Ukraine’s recovery process can sustain long lasting economic and social development and also build on Europe’s best practices, the report shows.  

According to the authors of Ukraine’s housing recovery requires a well-designed capital investment strategy, published by Housing Finance International, future efforts to rebuild the country present the opportunity to address both housing needs and energy efficiency, while building on community solidarity. 

The report’s authors are RMIT Adjunct Professor Julie Lawson and the European Investment Bank’s Grzegorz Gajda. 

Lawson, an Adjunct Professor with RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research, said that even before the war, Ukraine’s housing system was failing to deliver affordability, comfort and energy efficiency for many households. 

“With over 40% of the material damage from the war being residential structures, a new vision and pathway to repair and rebuild damaged homes will need to be established,” she said.  

“But for international donors, just providing recovery funds without a plan for housing reform means exacerbating problems which have plagued Ukrainian cities in the recent past.  

“If we want Ukrainians to return, every effort must be made to improve housing conditions and tackle the challenges that existed before the war,” Lawson said.  

The researcher said that a safe, secure and adequate home and neighbourhood will bring Ukrainians back – and underpin the country’s economic recovery.  

“The recovery plan should not only rebuild units but also deliver better housing homes and neighbourhoods that are accessible to all, embrace the impact of climate change and bolster community solidarity” Lawson said.  

Ukraine is already working towards a sustainable recovery, presenting  Reconstruction and Development Plan: Construction, urban planning, modernisation of cities and regions of Ukraine, to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in 2022.  

This plan specifically mentions the need to build affordable housing under revised non-profit legislation via municipal housing companies.  

Yet this requires political and donor will as well as focused technical assistance, according to the report’s authors.   

Lawson, along with Gajda, believe that together with Ukrainian housing experts and the international community of housing professionals, a long-term solution that supports economic stability and social harmony can be achieved.  

“There is an influential role to be played by strategic public investment from the Ukrainian government and multilateral-governmental banks such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” she said.  

“Public interest stakeholders should invest in a legally defined and well-governed system of affordable housing provision drawing on best practices in Europe.  

“Countries such as Austria, Finland and Denmark, have well-defined and sustainable operating models, that grow attractive, comfortable and inclusive housing options.” 

The researcher said that also vital to any recovery and an affordable housing system is a purposeful land policy, that integrates in urban plans and planning instruments the promotion of affordable and energy efficient housing.  

“Good land policy ensures that affordable housing is developed as part of municipal strategy – as is the case in the cities of Vienna, Amsterdam and Helsinki,” Lawson said. 

“We’re keen to ensure that international donors and public investment banks support Ukraine’s housing recovery through building a system of affordable housing provision, that builds on European best practice and sound urban policy.  

“This is far preferable to sporadic deal-based PPP contracts without a systemic plan or institutions to sustain it.”  

Lawson and Gajda will both be speakers at the Ukraine’s housing recovery forum on 15 February, hosted by the Dutch government’s National Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) in The Hague.  

Registrations are now open to online and in person participation. 

Story: Karen Matthews