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 700 families,” Landver said after the announcement was made. “I see this as the first step in finding a long-term solution to provide public housing and, in turn, ease the extreme financial difficulties faced by many 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.

“After more than a decade of no public housing projects, I am hopeful that the government will start again to build new housing, and use this as a new way to support aliya,” added Landver.

“This is a creative solution to solving some of the problems facing elderly olim, who should be entitled to public housing, as well as those of single-parent families,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a separate statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“This matter is extremely important. We have a commitment to assist every citizen in Israel and provide them with the means to live with respect and dignity.”

According to details provided by the Prime Minister’s Office, those allocated apartments will receive a monthly rental subsidy, paying less than NIS 250 each month. Netanyahu’s office has pledged a total of NIS 45m. for five years to assist with the program.

A separate press release from JAFI said that the move to use existing absorption centers for subsidized housing was part of a countrywide initiative that began in 2008. Many absorption centers had already undergone a NIS 12m. renovation for this purpose, it said.

“This is an important project that will bring financial and emotional security to hundreds of elderly immigrants and needy olim, including Holocaust survivors,” said JAFI Executive Director Natan Sharansky in the statement.

In addition to subsidized rent, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry said, each complex would have a supervisor present 24 hours a day to provide residents with security and other services.
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