Residents of Tel Aviv’s Neve Sharet neighborhood won the campaign they had been waging for the last four years against rising fees in public housing, after an appeal to the Tel Aviv District Court. Following the completion of an urban renewal project, the Amidar public housing company raised management fees (vaad habit) for tenants from NIS 50 ($14.50) per month to NIS 500 ($145). Following the court ruling, Amidar agreed last week to reduce the monthly fee back down to NIS 50 and return the money that the residents had paid. The residents were assisted in their campaign by NIF grantee the Public Housing Forum.
One resident Stella Mizrahi, a representative of the neighborhood committee, told the Israeli newspaper Ynet, “I explained to Amidar that our financial situation will not change, and I said that they have no reason to wage this battle against us because we have no way to pay NIS 500 per month. There are families here, people with children, elderly people who have gone into debt, whose bank accounts have been impounded. It’s not fair.”
Public Housing Forum CEO Danny Gigi said, “The court ruled that the conduct of Amidar and the Ministry of Housing is contrary to justice and the law that is supposed to protect public housing residents in the process of urban renewal. Urban renewal, which is a blessing in itself, must not become a tool for evicting poor families and pushing them out of high demand areas. The behavior of Amidar, the Ministry of Housing, and the Urban Renewal Authority is cruel and the legislature must act quickly to strengthen tenants’ rights, and give them more protection from those with interests, who operate in sophisticated ways to evict tenants from their homes.”
The Public Housing Forum works together with NIF and the Legal Clinic at the College of Management to assist tenants in public housing and provide solutions for whose apartments are seriously neglected and have major flaws. Over the past decade alone, there have been six reports published by the State Comptroller detailing the systematic faulty conduct of the Amidar public housing company.