More Than 3,000 Holocaust Survivors Remain on Waiting List for Public Housing in Israel

Nearly all the survivors on the waiting list are immigrants form the former Soviet Union

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Holocaust survivors demonstrate in Tel Aviv to protest their dismal living conditions, July 25, 2013.
Holocaust survivors demonstrate in Tel Aviv to protest their dismal living conditions, July 25, 2013.Credit: Nir Kafri

As the nation prepares to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day Wednesday evening and Thursday, there are 3,602 Holocaust survivors on the waiting list for public housing, nearly all of them from the former Soviet Union. The figures were provided by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry at the request of TheMarker.

A large number of the Holocaust survivors who qualify for public housing have been on the waiting list for years. In the interim, they receive subsidies from the Construction Ministry to help them meet rental payments at private-sector housing. Holocaust survivors receive a ministry rent subsidy that is 10% higher than for other qualified applicants.

The Absorption Ministry policy is to give priority to those on the waiting list for public housing who are Holocaust survivors. This is designed to cut the wait for public housing by about a year, but the Forum of Immigrant Families, a non-profit group, said that in light of major shortage of public housing in relation to the number eligible for it, most of the country’s Holocaust survivors will pass away before receiving public housing.

“These elderly people rent apartments on the private market, spend 60% to 70% of their incomes on rent and are subject to extreme instability and a decline in their economic and social situation,” said Marina Zamsky, the organization’s director. At a Knesset session Monday in recognition of Holocaust survivors, Zamsky’s group proposed that the government rent out long-term rental housing on the private market on an emergency basis and give priority to eligible Holocaust survivors to live in them.

The residents of about 30,000 households are currently eligible for public housing, about 27,000 of whom are entitled to the housing through the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. Of those 27,000, about 20,000 are elderly.

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