Hebrew U 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy of the Hebrew University)
In response to last summer’s social protest movement against increasingly
prohibitive cost-of-living standards throughout the country, student
entrepreneurs from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem created a company to
provide affordable housing for the capital’s young residents.
business, called “UniverCity,” is managed by students from the university’s
Student Union and links those looking for housing with the tens of thousands of
property owners who rarely stay in their second homes.
“There are 40,000
apartments in Jerusalem that are uninhabited most of the year,” said CEO Sima
Kuchersky on Saturday.
“So we look for people who have not rented out
their properties and make it attractive for them to do so by lowering their
Kuchersky – who is majoring in business and international
relations at the Hebrew University – said she became inspired to create
UniverCity last year during the social protests to address the unique needs of
the capital’s young population, many of whom face a dearth of affordable
“For a lot young people, their time in Jerusalem as students is
their first encounter with apartment owners,” said Kuchersky.
combination of limited affordable-housing options, confusing contracts and
municipality taxes can be overwhelming – so we do our best to make this
experience easy and affordable for everyone.”
To do this, Kuchersky said
UniverCity works to make the relationship between young people and property
owners mutually beneficial by lowering costs on both ends. Instead of paying
bills for a property they are rarely in, having students pay rent, Kuchersky
said, presents a “win-win situation.”
“For apartment owners, we offer
building insurance, regular house calls and generally help them be care-free
about their property,” she said. “To help cash-strapped students, UniverCity
provides professional services such as movers, electricians, and other
“There are always two sides to this equation: the
students and the owner,” Kuchersky continued. “By addressing both we have made the terms better for both parties.”
assisting absentee apartment owners to manage, maintain and supervise their
empty apartments at a lower cost, Kuchersky said the large volume of students
and young people looking for affordable housing has become far more
“All this is done by combining business tools and social
needs,” she said.
While Kuchersky said profit margins have been limited
so far, she believes her long-term business plan will yield dividends down the
“In a year or two, we hope to make a profit,” she said.