Cases 16:02 05 Sep 2023

New housing for IDPs: communal buildings are transformed into eco-friendly multi-apartment buildings

Providing decent housing for displaced people is one of the main tasks of the communities that accommodate them today. Besides, they try to make it environmentally friendly and inclusive. Rubryka tells about a project that supports such changes already in ten communities.

What is the problem?

The Russian Federation's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022, provoked the largest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. Tens of thousands of residential and infrastructural facilities were destroyed due to hostilities and Russian missile attacks, and electricity, heat, and water supply systems were significantly damaged. Millions of people were left without protection and a roof over their heads. In turn, the communities that have accommodated internally displaced persons must look for new solutions to provide shelter to the displaced.

What is the solution?

Ukraine is not alone in its troubles. In response to the challenges faced by the state, the EU launched a whole package of measures to help Ukrainian families get new homes. Among them is the program "EU Support for Urgent Housing Needs for IDPs in Ukraine" which is financed by the European Union and implemented under the management of the Northern Environmental Finance Corporation (NEFKO) in ten cities of the western and central regions of Ukraine. The program is designed to help communities provide housing for Ukrainians who were forced to leave their homes due to Russian armed aggression.

How does it work?

Housing for IDPs — comfortable, reliable, and environmentally-friendly

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Reconstruction of the building in Kovel, the Volyn region. Photo: IC Consulenten for NEFKO

The project's primary goal is to increase communities' capacity to provide housing and essential services to displaced persons. To do this, the existing municipal infrastructure is already being reconstructed within the program's framework, and at the same time, energy efficiency standards are being improved.

This project is being implemented in ten Ukrainian cities — Chernivtsi, Chortkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnytskyi, Kivertsi, Kovel, Lutsk, Rivne, Zolochiv and Zvyagel. €1.5-2.5 million have been allocated for each project, and the total amount of funding is €19.4 million. Reconstructed former dormitories, medical facilities, administrative buildings, schools, and kindergartens, which are no longer used by the cities for their original purpose, are being converted into new housing for displaced people.

Previously, NEFKO already cooperated with municipalities throughout Ukraine. For more than ten years of work, projects that improve the well-being of communities — for example, dedicated to energy efficiency and modernization of public buildings — have been implemented in 100 Ukrainian cities. The war made adjustments to the stable work — to start the program "EU Support for Urgent Housing Needs for IDPs in Ukraine," funds for repair work were redirected from the program to improve waste disposal and increase energy efficiency in Ukrainian communities, which was interrupted by a full-scale invasion.

The driving force of the project is currently the communities that implement it. The construction companies were selected through open tenders and technical, financial, and legal consultants who ensure the norms of international law and the requirements of the donors of the European Union are in accordance with the environmental standards and requirements of the national legislation of Ukraine, were involved in the work.

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Renovation of a house in Kivertsi. Photo: Garde Consulting for NEFKO

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Studio apartments in a reconstructed building in Ivano-Frankivsk. Photo: IC Consulenten for NEFKO

The program started in 2022, when the selection of cities for the project began, and today, construction and repair work is in full swing at all the selected objects — from cosmetic repairs to capital repairs with the strengthening of separate structures. Roofs are replaced and insulated in most buildings, driveways and paving around buildings are repaired, and internal heating, water supply, and drainage systems are replaced.

There are some differences between the projects in different cities, which are related to the different planning of buildings converted into multi-apartment buildings. Still, the ultimate goal is to turn most of the apartments into completely renovated small studio apartments equipped with everything you need, ready for accommodation, says Oleksiy Dumik, the representative of NEFKO in Ukraine. Furniture, efficient household appliances, dishes, and Wi-Fi will be provided. People will also be provided with heating, electricity, and hot water. A small part of the apartments will consist of dormitory-type rooms for two to three people, also fully furnished.

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This is what the apartments in the reconstructed housing in Lutsk will look like. Photo: IC Consulenten for NEFKO

Dumik draws attention to the fact that all buildings reconstructed under the program must undergo thermal modernization, including insulation of external walls and roofs and installation of new plastic windows. Thanks to this, old buildings become more energy efficient, and people who get apartments in them will feel more comfortable and spend less money on heating. Also, under NEFCO's green mandate, each building will include a green component — for example, the installation of photovoltaic (solar) panels or solar water heaters on the roofs, heat pumps for heating, or domestic hot water systems. Some facilities will use biomass boilers for heating.

The program aims to achieve a 30% increase in the energy efficiency of renovated buildings compared to their previous state.

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Housing reconstruction in Chortkiv. Photo: IC Consulenten for NEFKO

Volodymyr Deboy, head of Garde consultants, which also works with communities on this project, notes that, in addition to energy efficiency, another critical requirement of the European Union is the arrangement of housing suitable for people with disabilities. At each of the reconstructed facilities, ramps will be completed, doors will be widened, and appropriate bathrooms will be installed. At some facilities, the entire first floor will become fully inclusive, including the layout of the apartments.

"We understand that there is a war," says Deboy. "But it is also a challenge that provides an opportunity to repair buildings and make them fully compliant with European standards and requirements, and to provide its residents with both environmental benefits and the appropriate quality of living."

Does it really work?

Zvyagel case

Thanks to the program's implementation, about 1,800 IDPs should receive new apartments and access to basic municipal services. Renovation of the first residential facilities will be completed this fall, and the completion of all ten projects in different communities is planned by the end of 2023.

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Reconstruction of the blood transfusion station building in Zvyagel for housing for IDPs. Photo: Garde Consulting for NEFKO

Zvyagel in the Zhytomyr region is one of the ten cities participating in the "EU Support for Urgent Housing Needs for IDPs in Ukraine." Like all Ukrainian communities, the Zvyagel urban territorial community faced many additional challenges due to military aggression. It was necessary to solve not only the current daily life problems but also to help the armed forces, territorial defense soldiers, and displaced persons. It turned out to be quite problematic for the community due to the limitation of its own resources. That is why the community began actively participating in various projects and expanding cooperation with international aid programs.

"We heard about the European Union and NEFCO program on the reconstruction of buildings for displaced people, applied for a grant, and were selected to participate in the program," says Iryna Hudz, deputy mayor of Zvyagel. Participation in the program allows you to support local businesses and, most importantly, IDPs. "We plan that by the new year, resettled people who work at critical infrastructure enterprises, industrial and communal enterprises of the community will receive new apartments."

Заступниця міського голови міста Звягель Ірина Гудзь

Deputy mayor of Zvyagel Iryna Hudz is standing on the roof of the building undergoing reconstruction. Photo: Zvyagel city council

In Zvyagel, the building of the former blood transfusion station is being converted into housing for displaced persons. During the reconstruction, another floor was added to the three-story building, and the first floor is being completely redesigned for inclusive living.

In total, 47 apartments will be equipped in the renovated building. Housing for displaced people will be equipped with everything necessary for a comfortable stay: furniture, household appliances, sanitary ware, and even toilet seats.нове житло для ВПО

Each apartment of the improved accommodation dormitory will have its own kitchen and shower room with a toilet. Photo: Zvyagel city council"It is crucial for us to support displaced persons, to allow them to feel important to our community. We understand that this is the best thing that can be done for people who have lost everything because of the war. We want the people who came to us to be able to calmly return to a normal, peaceful life in this way. We understand that a person who has a job and a place to live can recover from all the horrors they experienced much faster today," says Hudz.

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Iryna Tereshchenko with her husband and sons. Photo from the family archive.

The family of Iryna Tereshchenko, from the city of Krasnohorivka in the Donetsk region, is already waiting for a new apartment. After another round of shelling by the Russians, the family evacuated to Lviv and then moved to the Zhytomyr region, closer to their relatives. Upon arriving in Zvyagel, Tereshchenko immediately got a job at a bakery. Her husband also works at a local company. The couple's eldest son is a soldier in the Ukrainian army and is serving in the east. In Zvyagel, the family rents an apartment, and the issue of housing is crucial for them, as well as for most IDPs. Tereshchenko thanks the city for the opportunity to participate in the program.

"When the director of the plant suggested applying, I was delighted," says Tereshchenko. "Our house was destroyed completely. There is nowhere to return. Zvyagel is a small but cozy town similar to my native Krasnohorivka. We are fine here. My sister is nearby, I have a job, and now I have hope for a place to live."

Even more useful solutions!

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In cities that have become participants in the program, not only housing for internally displaced persons but also communal facilities that serve displaced persons are being reconstructed. The photo shows a children's play area installed as part of the project at the Chernivtsi Polyclinic. Photo: Facebook

The program "EU Support for Urgent Housing Needs for IDPs in Ukraine"  is not the only one implemented by NEFKO in Ukrainian communities with the support of the EU.

It is part of a broader effort to rebuild a greener and better Ukraine by using environmentally friendly building materials, implementing energy and resource conservation measures, and reducing construction and demolition waste. In addition to this program, three more EU-funded programs are being implemented under the management of NEFKO related to providing housing for displaced persons and restoring critical infrastructure, including the construction of housing for IDPs from scratch. NEFKO notes that this will strengthen the resilience and ability of Ukrainian communities to accept more people from the regions most affected by the war.


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