Finance Minister Yair Lapid 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Funds from selling public housing will be used to aid the needy, in rent payment
and to buy more property for affordable housing, according to an amendment to
the Public Housing Law approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation
The same panel voted down the bill in August and Justice Minister
Tzipi Livni and ministers from Yisrael Beytenu continued to oppose the
legislation this week. The bill will have to pass three votes in the Knesset
before being implemented.
Under the current law, people who resided in
public housing for extended periods have the option of buying the
The amendment proposed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel requires that money from such sales
be used to invest in more public housing and its maintenance, to keep the public
housing supply intact and to subsidize rent for those eligible to receive
Much of the funding is expected to go to the second option, aid in
rent, which Lapid and Ariel prefer.
“Today, we started off on a path that
will give solutions to public housing and realistic aid in paying rent for those
who are eligible,” Ariel stated. “After many years, tenants will finally be able
to buy property that they will own and be fully responsible for, and improve
their social and economic standing.”
According to Ariel, selling public
housing apartments will give its residents independence.
opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said the change to the Public
Housing Law is “harmful and obtuse.”
“This amendment dries out and
destroys the Public Housing Law,” Yacimovich stated.
“Moving from public
housing under the government’s responsibility to aid in rent for the needy means
that help is being decreased and [selling public housing] is another way to
cover the deficit on the backs of the weakest members of
Yacimovich added that she will fight to make sure this “evil
bill” does not pass.
The New Israel Fund Initiative for Social Change, or
Shatil, opposed the amendment and demanded that all funds from selling public
housing be put into purchasing or building new public housing and not invested
anywhere else. In addition, the organization said the government should funnel
additional funds toward that end.
According to Shatil, “unlike the
finance minister’s claim, that helping with rent will give public housing
residents the freedom to choose where to live, the amendment proposed by the
ministers will only increase the number of people who need public housing and
concentrate them in poor neighborhoods. Today there are 2,500 native families
and 27,500 new immigrants waiting for public housing. In the current market,
public housing and its rehabilitation is the only solution for the needs of
families that are unable to find a roof to sleep under without government
intervention.”Niv Elis contributed to this report.