300 Elderly Immigrants in Israel Get 80% Rent Hike After Just 6 Weeks in New Homes

Elderly residents are refusing to pay the increase for their public housing in Rishon Letzion.

Ofer Vaknin

Some 300 elderly immigrants who moved into public housing in Rishon Letzion last August have been hit with rent hikes of up to 80 percent.

The Rishon Letzion Economic Corporation, which operates the building on behalf of the government, is demanding that the tenants – some of whom were waiting 20 years for public housing – sign new contracts at a significantly higher rent, but the tenants are refusing. The corporation is demanding a total of 350,000 shekels ($90,500) more than was originally agreed with the tenants.

According to the original contract, the immigrants had to pay 930 shekels a month for an individual and 1,230 shekels for a couple. After six weeks of living in their new apartments, though, the corporation informed the tenants their rental payments would be raised to 1,680 shekels for an individual and 2,030-2,190 shekels for a couple. The corporation also informed them, without any explanation or previous warning, that the tenants must come in and sign a new contract.

Most of the rent is paid to the Economic Corporation by the state, but even the tenants’ self-participation was increased by about 100 shekels per tenant per month. According to the new contract, every tenant has to pay between 280 shekels and 350 shekels – the maximum sum the Immigrant Absorption Ministry allows in public housing.

Many of the elderly people in the project live on allowances that range from 1,700 to 3,000 shekels per month, and therefore this increase is significant for them. Due to the increase, the Economic Corporation will be collecting over 350,000 shekels more from the tenants annually, in addition to the millions it receives from the government for operating the building.