Business Owners Exploit Refugees in Western Ukraine
The war has killed thousands of civilians and destroyed billions of dollars in infrastructure, but internally displaced individuals (IDPs) that have relocated to western Ukraine are struggling to survive. Notably, rent prices and the general cost of living have risen dramatically over the last four months, adding another hurdle that IDPs must overcome. Zelenskyy and his government need to intervene and help alleviate the burden on those who have already lost their homes and jobs.
In the city of Lviv, an apartment before the war cost around $800 a month; but those prices tripled or quadrupled in March and April. One IDP miraculously found an outdated apartment in a “wet, humid and cold” building near the city center for around $600 per month. Rent prices are decreasing because many individuals have moved abroad or returned home. However, they are still unsustainable for many IDPs. If these folks are planning to resettle here on a long-term or permanent basis, then prices need to match or come under what they were before the start of the war to allow them to live comfortably.
Many landlords are forcing tenants to pay in US Dollars instead of Ukrainian Hryvnias because the conversion rate, which was 28 hryvnias to 1 dollar before the war, has now risen to 36 to 1. The landlords insist they need to make money and are unwilling to lower their rent prices. The government has historically paid little attention to renters since it only accounted for 20% of the pre-war housing market.
The war has put a strain on Ukrainians, and the Zelenskyy regime needs to ensure that Ukrainian business owners are not another source of suffering. Some local municipalities have taken steps to address the price gouging, but there needs to be systemic change on the national level to help protect IDPs now and after the war ends. Rent prices will likely go up after the war ends, and the government needs to ensure individuals can find affordable housing during the rebuilding process.