'State wasting money on olim housing'

State comptroller report: 449 subsidized apartments vacant for up to 18 years at cost of NIS 46 million.

nefesh olim ben gurion 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
nefesh olim ben gurion 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Despite the drop in immigration to Israel in recent years, the Absorption Ministry is paying more than ever for subsidized apartments throughout the country designated for new immigrants, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote in a report released on Wednesday. According to the report, of all the apartments currently being rented by the government for needy immigrants, 449 have remained empty for at least half a year, and some have stayed vacant for up to 18 years. The state has never stopped paying taxes and fees for the locations, and has spent no less than NIS 46 million in the process, Lindenstrauss wrote. While nine apartments have remained empty in Haifa since 2004 and 14 others throughout the North were vacant between 2003 and 2006, the most egregious case was in Tel Aviv, where 14 apartments have been empty since 1992. Not surprisingly, the situation was also dismal in Sderot, where the Absorption Ministry has rented 162 apartments since 2002. Between 2004 and 2008, only 47 of those flats were occupied. According to the comptroller, the ministry has paid NIS 11 million for the unoccupied apartments. The ministry currently rents 134 rooms in Tel Aviv hotels for immigrants in need, but many of them have remained vacant for extended periods of time, including 46 which have had no occupants for eight years straight. According to the report, the average fee which the ministry has paid per day for the empty rooms was NIS 2,070 - more than a night's stay at a five-star hotel in Eilat.