U.S. Realtors have raised more than $120,000 to support relief efforts in Ukraine and its surrounding areas as the Russian invasion of the country rages on.
The trade group’s for-profit venture capital subsidiary, Second Century Ventures, has donated $50,000 to its international partners for refugee assistance, NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith announced on Friday at the National Association of Realtors’ board of directors meeting.
These partners include APAIR, NAR’s counterpart in Romania, and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which operates a Ukraine-relief-focused campaign called Realtors Care.
According to NAR, APAIR has so far found housing for more than 630 refugees and served more than 2,000 meals.
“Realtors with APAIR drove refugees to safety, coordinated housing needs, supplied meals, found jobs for some refugees, helped access medical care, and in many cases, welcomed refugees into their own homes,” said NAR spokesperson Wes Shaw in an emailed statement.
“We continue to assess multiple additional efforts coordinated by other global Realtor family organizations,” he added.
Rouda Smith also noted that the Louisiana Association of Realtors had donated $50,000 to Ukrainian relief efforts.
She solicited additional donations via text message from the 950 or so NAR directors in attendance at Friday’s meeting. By the end of the three-hour meeting, the directors had contributed $20,802.
The meeting featured a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem by Alexa Kebalo Hughes, an American Realtor with Ukrainian roots. As she sang, Rouda Smith turned on the flashlight of her smartphone and held it up as a show of solidarity and many of the directors followed suit.
Igor Balaka and Olena Haidamakha, vice president and director of the Ukrainian Realtors association, respectively, spoke at the board meeting. Their remarks were in Ukrainian, and English translations were projected on giant screens for the directors.
Haidamakha spoke of the beauty of Ukraine, the virtues of its people and the devastation of the war. She said that their Realtor association had more than 2,500 members and was founded 20 years ago.
“These days of war have shown all of us how important and significant our organization is,” she said.
“Since the very first days of the war, our members have taken an active part in helping to relocate tens of thousands of displaced persons from the active war zones into the western and central regions of our country.”
She stressed that refugees are being deprived of everything — food, basic necessities, clothing and medicines.
“Think what a person can take with her/him in in only 15 minutes!” she said. “In 15 minutes, under the sound of alarms and explosions, you can just take the hand of the person who is the most important to you and choose life and freedom over any possessions.”
The Ukrainian Realtors association has exempted its members from paying dues this year, according to Haidamakha.
“We appeal to partners and friends around the world, especially to NAR as our long-term partner,” she said.
“The Ukrainians are proud and strong people, and we will stand and rebuild our Ukraine brick by brick, and for that we need help, without which it will be much more difficult.”
“War has no place in the modern world,” she finished. “I beg you not to forget my country. Speak of it and support it as much as you can. Freedom has a different name now. Freedom is Ukraine!”
Balaka asked for humanitarian and material support for Ukrainian Realtors and their families, help with technology and business processes, training and remote jobs to help rebuild the real estate profession in Ukraine.
Both Haidamakha and Balaka received standing ovations from the directors when they finished their remarks.
NAR’s Shaw told Inman international Realtor member fees for Ukrainian Realtors association (URA) members have been waived and NAR will offer them education programs for free through NAR and other affiliate members of URA.
In a statement in February, at the start of the war, NAR said it supported Ukraine’s fight for freedom and encouraged its members to help those affected by the violence by donating to the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.
There are more than two dozen Realtor associations in Russia.
When asked whether NAR had reached out to its associations in Russia about the war in Ukraine and whether NAR’s support of the Russian associations had changed since the war started, Shaw said, “All of our current efforts in this space are focused on providing relief to those in Ukraine displaced or otherwise impacted by the violence.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the most recent figure for how much NAR directors donated on Friday.