About 20 thousand internally displaced persons arrived in Pavlohrad. Our editorial office is eager to share the experience we’ve gained in covering the topic “New Neighbors — New Housing for IDPs.” We genuinely hope that our achievements can assist as many people as possible who have been displaced from their homes due to the war.

Pavlohrad is situated in the Dnipropetrovsk region, with a distance of approximately 150 km to the war zone from our location. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, more than 20 thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs) have arrived in Pavlohrad. Therefore, our main goal was to assist everyone who approached us in addressing housing issues, including searching for social housing and providing legal advice. As there are now numerous IDPs in various localities, with housing being one of the most pressing issues, we aim to leverage our experience to assist as many individuals displaced by the war as possible.

What exactly did we do

I won’t take much time to describe what many of my colleagues already know without my elaboration. I’ll simply note that we did everything the editorial staff can and should do, thoroughly immersing ourselves in the topic. We organized meetings, round tables, wrote requests and letters of appeal, presented the project to public activists, and contacted the mayor, people’s deputy, and others. Over the 4-month project duration, we have produced 21 impactful journalistic articles and filmed more than 10 videos. We also hired a lawyer to provide advice to IDPs in need.
To ensure that all information on this topic is easily accessible for our readers when needed, we have established a new section on our website: “New Neighbors — New Housing for IDPs.” Information was posted on social media under that name.

A dedicated section on the website and across social media, numerous meetings and round tables, requests and appeals, engaging presentations and interviews, 21 impactful journalistic pieces, and over 10 videos – this is an incomplete list of our efforts

The interviews, by the way, were very effective. In discussions regarding the housing shortage issue for IDPs with Mayor Anatolii Vershyna of Pavlohrad and Deputy Roman Kaptielov of the Verkhovna Rada in the Electoral District No. 36 (Western Donbas), journalists received assurances from both politicians that addressing this matter will be a priority for them.
For example, Roman Kaptielov promised to deal with the problem of abandoned buildings in Pavlohrad, owned by ministries/agencies. According to the MP, the Verkhovna Rada has created the Ukraine Restoration Fund and a special law regulating how to use money from that fund. In particular, the funds can be utilized for infrastructure development and the restoration or construction of housing for IDPs. Pavlohrad submitted 5 projects to the system, 2 projects won, including a hostel. This work will continue in the future.

Pavlohrad is working on the reconstruction of a hostel

The mayor of Pavlohrad, Anatolii Vershyna, announced that he has instructed the Land Department to identify suitable land plots for the construction of townhouse complexes comprising low-rise, comfortable houses for IDPs. It is planned to raise grant funds for the construction.

Our performance: successful cases

There are several aspects to this issue. First, the materials from the “New Neighbors — New Housing for IDPs” section on the website and in social media were viewed by approximately 400 thousand users. Among them were individuals actively seeking information on the internet, including legal advice, valuable insights on social housing, and details about the city’s plans to address housing concerns for IDPs.

The second aspect is helping specific people. 10 internally displaced persons received legal advice. Three consultations were in person, while the lawyer assisted two individuals in preparing applications, which were then submitted to the Pavlohradzhytloservice Utility Company (administration of a modular town for IDPs) and the Department for the Accounting and Registration of Citizens at the Executive Committee of the Pavlohrad City Council. In the first case, the application assisted an IDP woman in restoring her housing rights, while in the other case, it facilitated the right to privatize the apartment. All questions and answers from IDPs were posted on the website Павлоград.dp.ua, enabling more than 20 thousand internet users to access information regarding common legal questions and conflicts.

But this is not all of our results. We would like to add that thanks to publications and other activities within the project:

The reconstruction of the hostel on Promyslova Street, involving over 60 apartments for IDPs, has commenced and is now under the close attention of the public.

♦ During the reporting speech, the mayor of Pavlohrad announced the initiation of the search for vacant land plots and the construction of housing for IDPs in the form of townhouses comprising complexes of low-rise, comfortable houses.

The development of a roadmap for housing cooperatives to address issues such as abandoned apartments and problematic inheritance has commenced. According to the Department for the Accounting and Registration of Citizens at the Executive Committee of the Pavlohrad City Council, six abandoned apartments of communal property and two apartments with problematic inheritance were identified during the period from October 2023 to January 2024. After receiving a positive court decision, apartments are either included in the housing fund for the temporary residence of IDPs or allocated to the queue of citizens in need of improved housing conditions.

The reconstruction of the hostel, the commencement of the search for vacant land plots and resolution of inheritance issues, the construction of housing for IDPs, along with the successful resolution of 10 individual cases and the provision of information to over 400 thousand people – that is only a small part of our achievements

In some aspects, the results were even higher than we expected – for example, the construction of a hostel, the appearance of plans by the city administration to search for land plots for cottage houses for IDPs. We highlighted the opportunity for the city to apply to the Ukraine Restoration Fund. This Fund will be used to finance the renovation of a hostel for IDPs in Promyslova Street. In the future, according to MP Roman Kaptielov, as he mentioned in an interview with our publication, it is necessary to continue the practice of identifying abandoned buildings that can be renovated for housing and submitting them to state programs for restoration.

Abandoned kindergarten

There is, of course, something that we did not fully manage. Or maybe we just planned more than it was realistic to achieve. For example, requests from the Pavlohrad Public Council, which includes representatives of 41 public organizations, did not give a quick solution to the problem by ministries and departments. The requests were submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the relevant committee, the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine regarding certain facilities (unfinished buildings, wastelands) that are located on the territory of the Pavlohrad City Community but belong to the Verkhovna Rada or ministries. The answers have been received, but they are quite “blurry”, we need to continue to correspond with other departments and enterprises, or there is a problem in the legislation of Ukraine and we need a legislative initiative.

While this effort was not in vain, it has resulted in tangible solutions. For example, in the context of profiling closed kindergarten buildings, upon reviewing the response to our request from the Department of Education of Dnipro, it became evident that the issue stems from imperfect legislation, which hinders the transfer of such buildings from the education sector to the residential category. This means that it is necessary to initiate amendments to the legislation. At present, Pavlohrad has six closed kindergartens located in various districts of the city. These buildings are deteriorating right before the eyes of the city’s residents. And they could serve as housing. However, according to the law, it is impossible even to change the purpose of the land on which they stand.

What results did the editorial staff get?

First, a few words about us, as it is important for understanding what follows. Our main channels for communicating information to the audience are

♦ website https://new.павлоград.dp.ua/

♦ Telegram channel https://t.me/news_pavlograd

♦ Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/news_pavlograd/

♦ and a Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/pavlograd.dp.ua/

The basis is a website that accumulates the most important local news. Additionally, we feature articles from various sections, including interviews, photo and video reports, events from the past, useful information, and ads. The section “New Neighbors – New Housing for IDPs” emerged as a result of the project. Statistics show that over the past month, the website was visited by 39 thousand users.

We have automatic posting to our Facebook page, which has 15,000 followers. A group with 40 thousand subscribers is linked to the page, where people can discuss news, post their publications/questions/ads.
The Telegram channel (28 thousand subscribers) and Instagram (53 thousand subscribers) are well-developed. Telegram is a platform where people get news here and now. If they find the topic interesting, they follow a link to view the news on the website. On Instagram, our posts mainly consist of photos or videos along with city news. On Telegram, in addition to city updates, we provide brief news about Ukraine, blackouts, and missile hazards.

On all our social media pages, people actively comment on our news and can submit their news through direct messages and Telegram/bot.

Both Telegram and Instagram are good advertising platforms.

Instagram page Павлоград.dp.ua

The project significantly boosted our editorial staff. Readers observed that we not only provide daily coverage of current news (crime, utility services, social sphere, etc.) but are also capable of delving into serious topics, crafting analytical materials, and producing video content. We are deeply grateful to the project for taking such steps in the website development.

The challenges we encountered during this work primarily revolved around the immediate workload that needed to be addressed. The distribution of responsibilities, time management, and planning of work in the editorial office successfully helped to overcome them.

The challenges we encountered during this project primarily revolved around the immediate workload that needed to be addressed

Throughout the project, there has been a significant increase in pageviews on the website. In the past two months, there has been an increase in the session duration, indicating that people are spending more time on the website reading materials.

Thanks to our participation in trainings organized by UMBA, we started to place more emphasis on visual art, leading to the rebranding of our website. Since the old logo was visually outdated, the design studio developed us a new logo, motto, watermark, and Instagram posts designs.

The website server has been repaired, ensuring stable operation. Pages now load quickly, and the server processes reader requests faster.

Purchased equipment allowed us to make high-quality videos for the YouTube channel. The results are evident in the statistics – we gained 42 subscribers in a month, and both views and video viewing time increased.

Without this project, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to be so effective. Due to constraints in their current roles, we lacked the necessary resources to focus on analytical articles, organize working groups, and create presentations, as we did not have dedicated roles for a journalist, copywriter, or videographer. Also, the editorial staff’s income did not allow upgrading the server, purchasing expensive equipment, or developing a new logo.

Allow me to explain. Currently, our revenue from Google and social media advertising is sufficient to cover the labor costs of journalists and advertising managers. In general, advertising revenues on the website are now at the level of 2021. Revenue slightly decreases in months when the city is under missile attacks, as businesses tend to react sharply and reduce advertising campaigns. However, the income is unstable, and it wouldn’t have been sufficient for acquiring equipment, IT services, or design services for updating the logo. This was made possible solely through a grant from UMBA and funds from the European Union.

Was it effective? Judge for yourself. Materials

Survey regarding “New Neighbors – New Housing for IDPs” section

viewed more than 400 thousand users, this is the total audience of the category on the site and in social media (Telegram, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube). From the survey we conducted on Instagram, which had 135 participants, 34% found the section useful, while 42% chose the “difficult to answer” option.

All this motivates us to move forward, even slightly change our topic planning. On one hand, we can still plan our activities, albeit only a few months in advance, due to being 150 km away from active military operations. Therefore, thinking about the long-term perspective is challenging. On the other hand, we definitely need talented journalists, perhaps representatives of public journalism, and activists. For instance, they could cover news in their neighborhood, addressing numerous municipal, infrastructure, and environmental issues within the city, which unfortunately lack sufficient engagement from active citizens. People comment on the news while lying on the couch, giving “valuable instructions” on how and what others need to do. However, they themselves do not want to participate, take responsibility and be proactive. There are also a lot of angry comments, hate speech and hostility towards each other right now.

Today we need to implement motivational projects, and highlight positive examples of business, achievements, volunteering, etc. because there is a lot of hate speech and hostility

Perhaps we need to implement some motivational projects, highlight positive examples of business, achievements, volunteering, etc. Conduct effective training sessions, conferences, and focus groups with the community.

Our pride

This is definitely a thank you from our IDPs. “I am truly grateful for the explanation of the “War Child” status that I and the youngest child in the family have. The lawyer also professionally explained to my mother whether she has the rights to an apartment in Bakhmut, which was granted to her father, or rather, to compensation, because there are no documents, and the house is destroyed”, says Sofia Deriaha, an IDP from Bakhmut.

“The administration of the modular town sealed the room where my mother’s common-law husband had permitted us to store our belongings and use certain property. Now my mother is in the hospital, and they don’t give me access to that room. The lawyer talked to the management company that administers the town, explained my rights, and gave me access to the room. He also helped me write a corresponding application”, comments Olena Sh. from Kramatorsk.

“My question concerned the privatization of an apartment with debts. I got the answer to this question on Павлоград.dp.ua, in the article with the lawyer’s comments. The lawyer also helped me draw up an application to the Department for the Accounting and Registration of Citizens at the Executive Committee of the Pavlohrad City Council and explained what steps to take next to protect my rights”, shares N., an IDP, portal user.

Our readers are spending more time on the website’s pages, engaging with a higher amount of content overall, and particularly paying attention to in-depth analytical articles

We also have an increased number of events on the website and the duration of the session. This indicates that readers are spending more time on the website’s pages, engaging with a higher amount of content overall, and particularly paying attention to in-depth analytical articles.
Of course, we are also proud of the results of our communication with local governments and representatives of public organizations. This is the basis of what I said above – that in 4 months of the project, we wrote 21 powerful journalistic materials, shot more than 10 videos.

Conclusions and recommendations for colleagues

I’ll start by paraphrasing what I’ve already said. As part of our project work, we gained experience of how a journalist can be not just an observer but also a participant, event organizer, and a catalyst for change. The meetings, round tables, requests, letters of appeal, presentations to public activists, and discussions with the mayor and the people’s deputy – all were centered on step-by-step assistance to help people resolve the housing problems of IDPs.

A journalist can and should be not just an observer but also a participant and organizer of events, serving as a “driver” of change

Yes, there are a lot of problems – with property, documentation, housing. However, these challenges can be addressed collectively and gradually – the experience of our project exemplifies this. Another crucial aspect, perhaps no less important, is the support and belief that problems can be solved, rejecting a sense of hopelessness. In certain situations, speaking with a lawyer served as crucial psychological support for people, while in others, such as assisting in drafting applications, it provided tangible help in problem-solving.

Therefore, we plan to continue cooperating with a lawyer to provide advice on the portal’s housing pages. We will closely monitor the situation with social housing in Pavlohrad, including the progress of the hostel reconstruction, the search for land plots for housing, and identifying abandoned apartments/buildings for potential repair and conversion into housing for displaced persons. In other words, we will continue to administer and update the “New Neighbors – New Housing for IDPs” section on the website. It was an interesting experience that we plan to expand to other areas of urban life.

At the same time, private investors are constructing several new buildings in Pavlohrad.

We would advise our colleagues to hire specialists, including consultants, lawyers, and psychologists. We did all that as part of our project. Don’t be afraid to organize consultations for people and then publish the results on your website. After all, as practice shows, readers often have similar questions, and they would be delighted to find answers on the pages of your publication. Pay attention to social media. Through collaboration with the project mentor, we enhanced the attractiveness of our social media pages. Additionally, participating in webinars helped us identify mistakes and areas for improvement. Therefore, during the project, we have a positive trend in all social media.

Constantly improve the efficiency of your work, participate in projects, and learn. Journalism is a highly competitive field that is evolving dynamically

We also recommend that you learn how to work with grant-givers. And the project management. For this purpose, there are various online courses, conferences, and communication with colleagues. The key is to consistently apply for contests. Don’t give up if your application isn’t accepted, as it’s impossible for 100% of applications to be winners. Enhance the quality of your work, both in terms of the concept and its design. Explore other contests and submit your idea there as well. Additionally, don’t forget about continuous training, participating in webinars, and engaging in various projects. Journalism is a highly competitive field that evolves dynamically and undergoes constant change.

AUTHOR: Tetiana Volkova, Editor of Павлоград.dp.ua Independent Portal Tetiana Volkova.

This publication was created with the support of the European Union. The content is the sole responsibility of the Ukrainian Media Business Association and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union, whose financial support made the project possible.