Last week in an unprecedented success for fair housing, an urban renewal law was passed by the Knesset. The bill contained each and every measure recommended by NIF grantee the (Shatil guided) Forum for Public Housing.
Thanks to intensive lobbying and activism by the Forum, the legislation now ensures many protections for current public housing residents when old buildings are razed and new units built in their place. Among the key changes:
- Public housing residents will not be prevented from living in the new apartments. The Forum discovered and exposed a document asking public housing residents to evacuate their apartments in buildings undergoing renewal.
- The Forum succeeded in cancelling all the additional expenses in the original bill that would have made life even tougher, if not impossible, for public housing residents to continue living in the updated apartments including higher property tax, rent, and building management fees.
- Public housing residents will be entitled to buy their renewed apartments at the price of their old apartments – a step forward for distributive justice.
In addition to its grant to the Forum, NIF provided an emergency grant to the Forum for a public-awareness campaign. MK Dov Khenin (Hadash and Joint List) lauded the work of the Forum on his Facebook page:“…when this bill came to the Knesset, it hid a great danger: a significant blow to the weak — the demolition of old buildings in which public housing residents live — in favor of new buildings which only wealthier people can afford. And then the impressive Forum for Public Housing went into action, leading to a systematic and impressive fight. And they won. After many years, public housing residents gained protection against dispossession resulting from real-estate moves.”
The Shatil-coordinated Public Housing Forum brings together 11 organizations fighting for housing rights, among them, Rabbis for Human rights, Achoti, the Mizrachi Democratic Rainbow.