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Israel to build 3,000 new sheltered housing units for elderly population

Jewish Agency, government ink agreement to provide affordable housing for senior Israelis in cities like Beersheba, Ra’anana, and Tel Aviv

Israeli elderly women take part in a morning workout in a former hotel turned into a social housing building for elderly Israelis from the former Soviet Union, in Jerusalem on September 4, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Israeli elderly women take part in a morning workout in a former hotel turned into a social housing building for elderly Israelis from the former Soviet Union, in Jerusalem on September 4, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

A new agreement between the Finance Ministry, the Construction and Housing Ministry, and the Jewish Agency was approved this week to deliver 3,000 affordable sheltered homes for elderly tenants across Israel.

Although the government has succeeded in increasing the number of new housing starts overall, there is still a need to develop appropriate public housing specifically to meet the needs of older people.

Israel’s free-market housing sector is characterized by high demand due to population growth and inadequate supply, driving up housing prices at dizzying rates in recent years. Public housing and low-profit social housing, which includes sheltered housing, is a highly underdeveloped sector, and new projects focused on delivering affordable homes for elderly people and other vulnerable populations are few and far between.

The new joint project, announced on Tuesday, will deliver 1,500 new-build homes initially in locations across the country including Nof Hagalil, Beersheba, Netivot, Ra’anana, Hadera, Lod, and Tel Aviv. A further 1,500 units are expected to be built during a later phase. Under a similar agreement with the Jewish Agency from 2016, over 2,600 homes were built for older citizens in need.

The sheltered housing units will be managed by Amigour, a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency that specializes in public housing in Israel. The company will be responsible for the building and allocation of these homes, as well as their ongoing maintenance and support for residents.

The agreement was one of the last signed by Avigdor Liberman, who served as finance minister until Thursday, when Israel’s 37th government, headed by the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, was sworn in. Liberman said that the project puts in place “high-quality public housing that provides a significant response to those who are waiting for affordable homes to become available.”

Ze’ev Elkin, who served as the construction and housing minister until Thursday, said the project was “an important step towards increasing the stock of public housing.”

“Elderly people make up about two-thirds of all those waiting for public housing,” he added.

Israel is home to approximately one million people aged 65 and over, about 20% of whom struggle to get by (Hebrew link), according to a 2021 social survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics. A new poverty report published this month by Israeli aid organization Latet found that over 2.6 million Israelis live below or close to the poverty line, with the elderly population especially vulnerable.

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