State to Increase Rent Aid to People on Public-housing Waitlist

Decision will affect 2,416 who are eligible for public housing; amount of increase has not been set.

Amidar housing in Beit She'an.
Yuval Tebol

The Housing Ministry plans to increase the amount of money it gives to people who are waiting for public housing by hundreds of shekels a month.

According to ministry data obtained by Haaretz, 2,416 people are on the public housing waitlist. Another 146,000 families who are not eligible for public housing receive monthly rental assistance from the ministry.

The ministry is advancing two plans to help the former group. The first, which has been approved by the finance and the immigrant absorption ministries, will raise the rental subsidy for people on the waiting list. The exact amount of the increase is to be determined within several weeks, after a study on the issue is completed.

The second will change the way that priority is determined for the public-housing waitlist. A government committee recently recommended making changes to the criteria used to determine an individuals place on the list. These include, in addition to how long the person has been waiting for public housing, considerations such as marital status, number of children and the urgency dictated by his or her current housing situation.

The committee recommended altering these criteria, presumably to give much more weight to how long a person has been on the waitlist. A final decision will be made after a process of public comment on the recommendations is completed.

These efforts come on top of an earlier decision to increase the supply of public housing by allocating over 1 billion shekels ($260 million) for the purchase and renovation of public housing. Since the start of the year, the Housing Ministry has renovated and moved tenants into more than 400 previously empty apartments and has bought another 231.

The ministry expects the pace of purchases to double in the coming months, to about 50 a month, after it hired the real estate agency Metropolis last month to start purchasing housing for it. Previously, the public housing company Amidar had been the ministrys sole purchasing agent.

Altogether, the ministry hopes to buy about 850 apartments next year. In addition to the ministrys own funds, some of the money for this will come from the proceeds of selling existing public housing apartments to their tenants.

Over the next five years, it hopes to add 2,650 apartments to the stock of public housing, under a project run jointly with the Jewish Agency.