Eviction of Ha’Tikva protest camp, Tel Aviv, Israel, 15.01.2012 |Contract workers of the Tel Aviv municipality take part in the eviction of Ha’Tikva protest camp, south Tel Aviv, January 15,2012 |Hundreds of policemen, Tel Aviv municipality inspectors and Contract workers evicted on Sunday morning homeless people, confiscating their personal belongings and leaving them with out any housing solution. photo by: Oren Ziv/Activestills.or
What is the meaning of the State of Israel preference to help with rent and not provide public housing?
In the last few years the State of Israel has reduced the number of apartments available for public housing. Instead the State helps the families who are entitled to public housing with rent in the free market. This means that people with low income had to rent apartments from private people and sometimes because of their debts they do not have cheque books and they need to ask to pay the rent every month with cash. Sometimes they can not bring guarantees and have to beg the owners to give up this condition.
The State gives only a part of the rent money and in fact it helps the owners more than the people who need it. It increases the rent, and because the State does not update the sum it help in accordance with the increase of the rent money.
The summer protest started a public discussion on the difficulties of funding housing (buy or rent) and the issue of the homeless came to the public’s awareness, among them 2200 families that are entitled to public housing and there is no apartment to give them. The Minister of Housing, Atias, is saying again and again that this problem will be solved it two years and suggests to give 3000NIS as rent (he ignores the fact that in five years the 3000 NIS will be less).
A negative affect on life
As a result of the State’s decision to help with rent and not with public housing, Smadar Akari’s and her family’s lives have been negatively affected. Smadar, a single mother of 4 is entitled to public housing in Holon, but theere is no public housing there and therefore the State sent her to rent an apartment in the free market. Smadar will receive 1500 NIS a month for rent, but in Holon, where she lives, there is no apartment for 1500 NIS rent a month, the cheapest is 1500 NIS. Smadar is a bankrupt person (as a result of her ex husband’s debts), and therefore she is not allowed to have cheque books. She receives 2000 NIS disability allowance (due to cancer she had and left her with difficulty to work a full time job), she works part time in the post office and earns 2000NIS. Her ex husband does not pay child support.
Smadar and her children have an income of 5500 NIS a month, and from it she has to pay 3000 for rent and she will have 2,500 NIS for food, water, telephone, internet, medicine, school etc…). Two months ago, after her help in rent was unjustifiably rejected, Smadar and her children moved to the street. In the meantime it was returned and she was offered public housing in the periphery, but her children who are grown up, wanted to stay in Holon, where their friends and family live. After a month in the street, Smadar decided to reduce her expenses and to rent an apartment, but she has more problems, she does not have a cheque book and no guarantees. It is a month since she started to look for an apartment but no landlord agrees to let her live in his property without giving him cheques in advance and without guarantees. Smadar and her children were in the street. No public housing and the help in rent does not really help them.
It is not the first time that Smadar and her children have lived on the street. In February 2010 they have been in the same situation but then Smadar received help from a private donor through the Yedidut Fund, this time she hoped to get public housing, which is a long term solution. But, after a long time without a solution, Smadar turned to her mother and her sister who live together in public housing in Hulon, and asked her to come with her children to live there. They agreed and Smadar moved to live with them. From the Ministry of Welfare’s report which was written after the housing protest, we can see that many people live on the streets, with friends and family, or pay so much money for rent that they have no money for anything else.
For two year the Minister of Housing promises to solve the problem of the 2200 families that are entitled to public housing, in addition to others who are also entitled to help in housing, Two years is a long time for people who do not have anywhere to live.
You were chosen, so take responsibility
It is time that the State of Israel took responsibility for its citizens and residents and will take care of their right for housing. It is a moral right, a Jewish right and a human right as a society.
We cannot accept a situation in which adults and children live on the street without a solution, and this winter there are many people on the streets and even more people wander around between family and friends who let them live with them for some time. A State like Israel with its capabilities can not let anyone live on the streets, but in the State of Israel today it is even forbidden to be in a tent on the street and there are eviction orders for the encampments of Hatikva and Kiriat Shmona.
The national staff of housing has a housing campaign and calls all of us to join. Half a year ago streets were full with encampments of people who did not have anywhere to live, they still do not and our State has to change its attitude, there can not be people without housing solutions.