Housing for the military: reality or myth?

The problem of providing housing for servicemen is quite painful and such that it deprives promising young people of motivation to enlist in the military. As of January 1, 2021, 44.8 thousand families of servicemen are registered in the Armed Forces of Ukraine housing list, of which 33.2 thousand are on the preferential list for housing, which is 74.1% of the total number of people in the list. The total need for funds to provide the existing number of servicemen without provided housing is approximately UAH 49.4 billion. (UAH 1.1 million average cost of the apartment).

The list of servicemen needed housing in Ukraine is constantly growing and the prospects for its elimination or at least a significant reduction only at the expense of the state budget are quite illusory. For the past 9 years, the military has received an average of 604 apartments per year. According to the most estimates, it will take about 78 years to provide apartments with the available number of people on duty.

Sometimes the military voluntarily refuses to include them in the list for state housing, considering the low probability of obtaining their own apartment according to the existing model. That is, while serving in the Armed Forces, servicemen are forced to stay in rented apartments and dormitories, and after being for decades in service, servicemen and their families continue to be without housing provided by the state.

With the election of a new Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in 2019, MPs - members of the Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, decided to find effective mechanisms to address the housing list of servicemen. For all of us, the above statistics are very painful. Therefore, a working group was set up at the Committee by the co-chairmanship of Ihor Kopytin and Maksym Berezin to prepare and support a draft law that would help eliminate the housing list of servicemen.

The current Law of Ukraine "On social and legal protection of servicemen and members of their families" provides for broad rights of servicemen to provide them with housing at the expense of state budget. At the same time, the number of apartments built and purchased depends not only on organizational measures for structural changes, but also on the planned and rhythmic financing of the program of housing for servicemen from the State Budget of Ukraine.

Given the unstable funding from the state budget, the priority in addressing issues is to improve the system of construction (purchase) of housing, implementation of investment projects. This will create an effective mechanism for attracting non-state funds to quickly provide housing for servicemen and eliminate the housing list within three to four years.

Our working group has already worked out the Draft Law "On providing housing for servicemen and members of their families with the involvement of non-state funds, land for rent and sale of property." To date, this Draft Law has been reviewed three times by the relevant central executive bodies (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defense), and proposals that are acceptable to the Ministry of Defense have been taken into account in the Draft Law.

The main purpose of the Draft Law is to attract investment in the construction of housing for servicemen, to hold a competition for the selection of investors and to settle the issues of land lease and sale of unnecessary property. Thus, we will be able to facilitate and accelerate the solution of this housing issue in the country.

The creation of an effective mechanism will also eliminate the existing problems in providing housing for servicemen, which are as follows:

- lack of a transparent system of tenders to attract investors-developers (other investment partners);

- the presence of a significant number of concluded and unrealized agreements;

- lack of a legally defined algorithm for "exchange" and assessment of the value of real estate at different stages of readiness in different places and cities;

- a significant number of different agencies and organizations on which depends the project implementation, bureaucratic workload of the process.

The Draft Law also envisages to create really progressive mechanisms that will fill the special fund of the State Budget of Ukraine and will be used exclusively for the construction of housing for servicemen.

By adopting such law, we plan to achieve a truly open (transparent) system of attracting, distributing and using funds that are used to build (purchase) housing for servicemen.

I believe that the adoption of this bill will help improve the situation in the field of housing for servicemen and create a legal basis for solving its problems.