Knesset, Finance Ministry agree to sell public housing at discount

"After living in uncertainty for a period of about 10 years, this is good news that offers a solution for thousands of public-housing residents."

mortage house keys 88 (photo credit:)
mortage house keys 88
(photo credit: )
Postponed for nearly a decade, a public-housing bill that will allow residents of government housing to buy their residences at discounted rates is finally taking shape. The Knesset Economics Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed the bill presented by MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) and MK Yoram Marciano (Labor) in second and third readings. It will be presented to the Knesset plenum for final approval next week. "After living in uncertainty for a period of about 10 years, this is good news that offers a solution for thousands of public-housing residents," said Cohen. The public-housing bill is aimed at giving public-housing residents the ability to buy their apartments from the state at a high discount, depending on the number of years and the number of people living in public housing, as well as the geographical area. The bill was first submitted to the Knesset in 1999 but has since been frozen within the Economics Arrangements Law. The bill was passed after intensive negotiations over the past few days between MKs and representatives of the Finance Ministry over the maximal discount on selling public housing, with a compromise reached only minutes before the vote. The Knesset members had requested a maximal discount of 90 percent, while the Finance Ministry would not agree to any discounts above 50%. According to the compromise, a couple living in public housing located in the center of the country for 30 years will be entitled to a discount of 67%. For families, the maximal discount will be 90% in the periphery and 82.5% in the center. Under the terms of the agreement, the law will only come into effect in 2011, though the sale of public-housing apartments will already commence four weeks after the bill is passed by the Knesset. The bill specifies that 75% of the money generated from the sale of public-housing units will be invested in creating new housing solutions such as public-housing units and renovations. The remainder will be allocated for related purposes other than public housing, such as neighborhood rehabilitation.