BGU students create coordinating c'tee for Beersheba public housing residents

Initiative comes after repeated complaints from public housing residents over disconnect between them and housing companies.

Ben-Gurion University campus in Beersheba 370 (photo credit: BGU)
Ben-Gurion University campus in Beersheba 370
(photo credit: BGU)
Undergraduate social work students at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev partnered with the NGO Yedid this week to establish a coordinating committee for residents of public housing in Beersheba designed to act as a mediator between the tenants, the municipality and Amidar, the government’s housing company regarding a variety of issues.
The initiative, which also the Housing and Construction Ministry and the organization Community Advocacy, came after repeated complaints from public housing residents indicated that a disconnect exists between them and the housing companies about the implementation and maximization of their rights as tenants.
One of the students involved, Tal Gilad, explained that the goal of the project is to “bring together those who face from public housing maintenance problems and those who have the power to solve them” and eliminate any quality of life issues in public housing apartments in the city.
 “We hope that the success of the venture will help expand it from Beersheba to other cities where public housing is,” she added.
To operate the community, the students approached the NGO Yedid, also known as the Association for Community Empowerment, which has agreed to provide residents with free legal assistance. The organization Community Advocacy has also volunteered to help guide and back up the students in their social venture.
During the launch of the project, which took place at a meeting held at a community center in Beersheba this week, Deputy Mayor Rabbi Gadi Mazuz stated that "government agencies need to understand that the residents of public housing are not prisoners of Israel and deserve rights and respect.”
Southern District Director of Amidar Kobi Bar welcomed the initiative and said that the company is “doing everything [it] can to help but [is] subject to the laws and regulations set by the Knesset and the Ministry of Housing.”
Bar added that public housing residents “should not see Amidar workers as enemies.”“We are part of you,” he said.
All parties involved in the project have signed an agreement recognizing the importance of dialogue between public housing residents, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, Amidar and the city of Beersheba and pledging to work together to solve the existing communication issues.
According to the established work plan, the committee will begin work immediately after next month’s holidays, at the start the new academic year at Ben-Gurion University. The students who founded the project said they have prepared information materials to be distributed to residents and will be training volunteers and students wishing to join them in the coming months.