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Lapid's Latest 'Edict': Less Housing Aid for Hareidi Families

Two key criteria that enabled hareidi families to receive aid from the government for the purchase of an apartment were eliminated Monday
By David Lev
First Publish: 7/1/2013, 8:37 PM

Housing
Housing
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Two key criteria that enabled hareidi religious families to receive aid from the government for the purchase of an apartment were eliminated Monday by the government's “housing cabinet.” The changes will make it much more difficult for hareidi families to receive government grants and loans to purchase their first homes.

According to members of the “housing cabinet,” members of which include several ministers – and chaired by Finance Minister Yair Lapid – the system that had been in force until now favored hareidi families. Eligibility for housing assistance is based on a point system, with families with the most points at the head of the line for assistance and subsidized housing.

Previously, a large number of points were awarded for “length of marriage,” a criteria that worked in favor of hareidi couples, who generally marry young. The number of points awarded for that criteria have been cut significantly, as have the points awarded for another previously advantageous criteria – the number of children in a family.

Instead, a criteria has been adopted that definitely does not favor many hareidi families where the head of the household learns in a kollel. Priority will now be given to couples who work at jobs that allow them to pay a percentage of the prevailing rent levels in a community. The majority of points will be awarded to couples with up to three children in which the parents work and earn between NIS 15,000 and NIS 18,000 a month. Points will be awarded for the first three children, but not for any others beyond that number. Additional points are awarded for veterans of IDF service.

The criteria are tailor-made for working class secular and traditional families, analysts said, and covers 70% of the apartments eligible for state assistance. The rules are relaxed somewhat for the other 30%, which are to be marketed to hareidi and Arab families.

Commenting on the changes, Lapid said that “we are fulfilling our promises, and fixing inequalities that have been an issue for many years. Those inequalities gave preference to groups that did not work and did not serve in the IDF,” Lapid said. Housing Minister Uri Ariel said that the new rules “placed at the center of eligibility working families, but at the same time do not damage the status of hareidi families – and instead encourages them to gradually enter the workforce,” Ariel said.