Elderly Israelis wait for their turn to vote .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Belz Foundation of Memphis, Tennessee, has granted $500,000 to the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Senior Affordable Housing Initiative to help address one of the country’s most acute social challenges.
According to the Jewish Agency, there currently is a waiting list of 27,000 low-income Israeli seniors, half of whom are Holocaust survivors, for subsidized housing. The severe shortage of affordable and subsidized housing for seniors has forced many to find shelter in storage facilities or on the street.
The Senior Affordable Housing Initiative seeks to address this crisis with some 3,000 affordable housing units that are set to be built on 17 sites in nine cities across Israel.
The Israeli government has pledged to fund half of the project’s construction costs and will subsidize 85% of the market rate of tenants’ rent for the next 20 years.
“We are gratified that The Belz Foundation is granting this generous and crucial support to assist some of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens,” Jewish Agency International Development CEO Joshua Fogelson said. “In addition to providing a lifeline for an at-risk population sector, increased access to affordable housing for seniors will contribute to the creation of a more equitable, inclusive and vibrant Israeli society as a whole.”
David Silvers, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Budget and Finance Committee, said many of the elderly in need of housing are immigrants who arrived with the assistance of the agency, adding that the project will cut down wait times.
To date, more than $16 million has been pledged toward the initiative, including approximately $7m. for construction of its first site, a 180-unit property located on Tel Aviv’s Derech Hashalom Street. Construction is under way and is scheduled to be completed in July 2019.
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Construction also will begin by year end on a 471-unit property in Ashkelon.
Additional apartments and facilities will be constructed across the country and rented to elderly individuals who are eligible for government housing assistance in exchange for monthly rent of up to NIS 300.
The Jewish Agency said the new housing will allow elderly couples and individuals who currently reside in large apartments that are part of the government’s public housing program to move into the new buildings, thereby vacating the larger apartments for young families who are waiting for suitable public housing solutions.
The Belz Foundation joins other major donors including the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; the Claims Conference; the Coopersmith Charitable Trust; the Iranian Jewish Federation; and Keren Hayesod donors from South America, Sweden and Holland in supporting this initiative.
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