Gov’t allocating 650 homes to single parents, olim

PMO plan makes elderly immigrants, Holocaust survivors and others eligible for subsidized housing.

Elderly immigrants, single-parent families and Holocaust survivors will be among those now eligible for government-subsidized housing under a new scheme announced Sunday by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Immigrant Absorption and Housing ministries and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
Some 650 apartments located in JAFI absorption centers in Haifa, Upper Nazareth, Kfar Saba, Lod, Ashkelon and Beersheba have been renovated and refurbished to provide heavily subsidized public housing for those in need, in a plan that will cost some NIS 9 million a year.
Last January, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver described the shortage of pubic housing, especially for elderly immigrants, as a “catastrophe.”
She said that a study undertaken by her ministry found that out of roughly one million elderly olim who applied for public housing, less than a quarter were even eligible; and that most of the existing apartments that had become available in recent years were located on high floors, making them impossible for older people to access.
The government has not allocated new housing for more than a decade, and no new public building projects are scheduled.
“I am delighted that we have now found a solution for close to 700families,” Landver said after the announcement was made. “I see this asthe first step in finding a long-term solution to provide publichousing and, in turn, ease the extreme financial difficulties faced bymany elderly immigrants.”
She said that she would still push the government to widen the scheme and provide further public housing for those who need it.
“Aftermore than a decade of no public housing projects, I am hopeful that thegovernment will start again to build new housing, and use this as a newway to support aliya,” added Landver.
“This is a creativesolution to solving some of the problems facing elderly olim, whoshould be entitled to public housing, as well as those of single-parentfamilies,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a separatestatement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Thismatter is extremely important. We have a commitment to assist everycitizen in Israel and provide them with the means to live with respectand dignity.”
According to details provided by the PrimeMinister’s Office, those allocated apartments will receive a monthlyrental subsidy, paying less than NIS 250 each month. Netanyahu’s officehas pledged a total of NIS 45m. for five years to assist with theprogram.
A separate press release from JAFI said that the moveto use existing absorption centers for subsidized housing was part of acountrywide initiative that began in 2008. Many absorption centers hadalready undergone a NIS 12m. renovation for this purpose, it said.
“Thisis an important project that will bring financial and emotionalsecurity to hundreds of elderly immigrants and needy olim, includingHolocaust survivors,” said JAFI Executive Director Natan Sharansky inthe statement.
In addition to subsidized rent, the ImmigrantAbsorption Ministry said, each complex would have a supervisor present24 hours a day to provide residents with security and other services.