Protesters angry over lack of public housing join the fray

"60,000 waiting to enter public housing."

Housing protest in Jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Housing protest in Jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
As thousands of working and middle-class people took to the streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday night to protest the high costs of housing and living, many who have struggled with hardship for years are set to join the wave of protests with a demonstration on Sunday morning over the shrinking pool of public housing options.
Under the slogan “Wake Up Amidar!” the protest, which is being organized by Tarabut- Hithabrut (Arab-Jewish Movement for Social and Political Change), will take place in Jerusalem opposite the offices of the Amidar government housing company in Jaffa Road.
Hundreds of people are expected to turn out to support families that have been threatened with eviction from public housing or have been waiting for years to be given state-owned homes.
“We plan to protest outside Amidar’s offices, the government’s real estate company that receives millions of shekels and no one knows where it really goes. It is time that we ask where all the money meant to help the people has gone,” said Amnon Tzur. He started his own protest in the capital, drawing around 20 families, including 15 children, to live in a make-shift city in Independence Park.
“People think that we are having a picnic here or have created a camp for fun, but basically we are here because we have nowhere else to live,” Tzur said. “Our tent protest started with me and several single mothers, but in a short time it has attracted more than 30 tents. We now have a kitchen, a dining room, and more and more people are joining.”
“For the past few months we have been protesting the lack of public housing, trying to help those who are being threatened with evictions and those who are eligible for public housing but are forced to wait for many years before being given a place to live,” protester Tal Bergles said.
“We are protesting in order to bring to the public attention the fact that companies created to provide needy people with public housing – Amidar and others – act today like for-profit companies, making a fortune on the backs of the country’s neediest citizens. We demand that the public housing system start working again for its original purpose, and not to provide the state with millions in profits.”
According to Tarabut-Hithabrut, more than 50,000 immigrants and 10,000 veteran Israelis are waiting to enter public housing. In the largest cities the wait to enter public housing can be up to six years.
The demands of those protesting on Sunday outside Amidar’s office include priority housing for single mothers and an increase in public housing options for those in need.
A Facebook group set up to announce the protest said that hundreds of people who participated in Saturday night’s demonstrations intended to join those now living in Independence Park through the night and would join them in their march along Jaffa Road at 7:30 on Sunday morning.
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