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One of the buildings offered to refugees in Blagoevgrad, Source: City of Blagoevgrad on Facebook

Blagoevgrad offers vacant social housing to Ukrainian refugees

Blagoevgrad offers vacant social housing to Ukrainian refugees

Mayor Ilko Stoyanov explained that this will not affect the city’s capacity to service locals in need of housing

Today, authorities in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, announced their decision to house Ukrainian refugees in the city’s vacant social housing units. This is one of the first municipalities to react so decisively to the issue, as the proposal has already made it through the city council.

According to a statement by the city, this will not affect the supply of social housing available for residents. At the same time, Mayor Ilko Stoyanov explained that the municipality needs to react rapidly and appropriately.

The social housing situation in Blagoevgrad

Blagoevgrad is one of the few municipalities in Bulgaria that has a robust and functional social housing policy. The buildings in question were constructed as part of the EU operational programme ‘Regions in Growth’. The decision comes as a reaction to the growing number of Ukrainians feeling the Russian invasion.

The municipality can offer 141 vacant apartments, 129 of which are one-bedroom, 10 are two-bedroom and two are three-bedroom. Mayor Ilko Stoyanov explained that currently there are no people on the waiting lists for social housing. However, if they were to apply he said that they would be treated with priority.

Ready to take in refugees

At the end of last month, authorities in Blagoevgrad created a refugee centre to coordinate help for the displaced Ukrainians. The centre mainly deals with citizen volunteers, offering to drive people in need, translating and more. The city also has an office of the Bulgarian Red Cross, collecting donations of essential items.

Mayor Stoyanov explained that the municipality will not turn away any citizens who fulfil the criteria for social housing. He also pointed out that authorities need to react as quickly as possible to help the victims of the war in Ukraine.

He concluded: “Do not be afraid to be the first ones to step up. On the contrary, you should be proud to be a good example in Bulgaria and abroad.”

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