Fighting for the Right to Affordable Housing
New Voices of Conscience: Gil Gan-Mor
Gil Gan-Mor, 34, is the Coordinator of the Right to Housing project at flagship NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). A graduate of NIF's Israel-U.S. Civil Liberties Law Program, he joined ACRI in 2007 and helped found the Coalition for Affordable Housing in 2009 with NIF/SHATIL and a range of social change organizations, including NIF grantees Bimkom-Planners for Planning Rights, Community Advocacy-Genesis Israel, and the Association for Distributive Justice. He is responsible for policy and legislation within the coalition.
Affordable Housing: Prices for housing in Israel, both purchased and rented, have risen relentlessly over the past few years. According to the Bank of Israel, the price of the average Israeli home has risen nearly 50 percent since December 2007 with rent prices also climbing sharply. Over the past year alone, apartment prices have risen 15 percent. Thus, despite Israel's impressive economic growth, more and more Israelis, especially the young and disadvantaged, simply cannot afford to buy or even rent a home.
2011 Tent Protests: First it was a single lone young woman, fed up with doing everything she was supposed to and still not being able to get by in Tel Aviv in 2011. In frustration at losing an apartment she could no longer afford, she pitched a tent on Rothchild Blvd and invited Facebook friends who felt as she did to join her to protest an economy that was leaving more and more Israelis behind. Soon there were 400 tents lining the boulevard. A few days later, over 10,000 people, across Israel, joined them, calling for a return to priorities that reflect a founding Israeli value that many feared was long forgotten: social justice. The next weekend, 150,000 took to the streets. Peacefully, forcefully, they called for a new Israel. Then 300,000 and finally 450,000 Israelis called for social justice in their country.
Gil's Role: During the protests, Gil and other Coalition activists traveled the length and breadth of the country, giving 70 lectures and workshops in over 40 encampments. "We have spoken to the protesters about how the problem is solved in other countries and what needs to be done in Israel."
Gil Believes: "[The current] government policy is that a home is a consumer product like a car, at the mercy of market forces (rather than a right), and it is up to the individual to afford a home. It is also government policy to privatize everything and reduce government involvement in the housing market. But pressure from the people can change these policies."
Here is an interview with Gil Gan-Mor:
To get a better sense of the scope of these exciting demonstrations, view this time-lapse video: