(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The solutions presented by the government for the problems of housing are not serious, accused Eli Alalouf, head of the Committee to Fight Poverty, at a discussion of the Knesset Committee on Labor, Welfare, and Health on Wednesday.
The Knesset marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Wednesday with a series of panel discussions at the initiative of MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz), MK Orly Levy-Abeccasis (Yisrael Beiteinu), and MK Haim Katz (Likud) in collaboration with the Forum to Combat Poverty.
The day – established by the United Nations in 1993 – was also dedicated to implementing the recommendations of the Committee to Fight Poverty within the framework of the 2015 budget.
“Housing problems are plunging people into poverty much more than employment problems. Families below the poverty line are forced to spend 80% of their money today on housing. Nobody is seriously addressing the problem of housing, even the solutions proposed currently,” said Alalouf.
“The committee was promised NIS 1.7 billion to implement the recommendations in the 2015 budget, though we wanted NIS 8 billion,” he said.
In June, the Committee to Fight Poverty released its long-awaited recommendations to combat poverty, totaling between NIS 6b.-8b. to implement.
The committee, which was appointed by Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen, called to reduce the poverty rate by 40% to reach the OECD average of 11% within 10 years. The only way to accomplish this goal is to begin implementing all the recommendations within the next three to five years, according to the committee, which is responsible for recommending the actions required by the state to combat poverty in all aspects of life.
Among the panel discussions marking the day, the Knesset Committee on Education, Culture, and Sports met to discuss differential budgeting in the education system, while the Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee met to discuss the public housing crisis among immigrants.
The Committee on Rights of the Child also met to address the issue of poverty in the education system as well as the most recent UNICEF report on the status of children in Israel.
Jonny Cline, CEO of UNICEF Israel, told the Knesset committee that 35.6% of children in Israel live in poverty, ranking Israel fourth in child poverty in the Western world. Among the reasons for such a high poverty rate, he explained, is the government cutback of child allowances.