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Affordable housing in Tel Aviv - Not Only for the Young

Tel Aviv
© Alexander Donin |

The Tel-Aviv District Court ruled yesterday (4.4.2021) that the Municipality of Tel-Aviv must reconsider the condition for participating in the lottery for affordable housing in the city - meaning rent which is significantly lower than market value for a period of five years. The Court supported ACRI’s argument that the conditions, specifying an age limit and an earning capacity, effectively prevented those ages 45 or older, retired, or disabled from accessing affordable rentals in the city, and these conditions are discriminatory, severely unequal and must be canceled.

The appeal was filed in February by Attorney Tal Hassin, on behalf of ACRI and petitioners who were prevented from participating in the lottery for affordable housing in the “HaAliya Market '' complex due to the limited conditions. The petitioners include a retired couple, a single mother to minors, and a female couple raising a daughter. Another petitioner is Shula Keshet, a member of the City Council, who opposed the discriminatory conditions.

In the appeal, we argued that the fact that people over 45 or who have not held full-time employment for 18 months out of the past three years cannot participate in the lotteries for affordable housing is discriminatory based on age, and secondarily on disability. The petitioners argued that there is no substantial justification to exclude people who are aged 50 or 60, retired, or unable to work from the invaluable resource that is affordable housing - all while the city is full of young people and successful educational institutions. Therefore, the appeal argued, the decision of the City of Tel-Aviv to distribute life-changing benefits exclusively to young people comes from a place of preference and not need, and is not based on a factual reality which would justify the severe inequality and humiliating message sent to the older population in the city.

Furthermore, the appeal argued that the criteria of age and earning ability have no mention in the conditions set forth by the Legislature for Affordable Housing, they were not part of the recommendations of experts from the Technion on which the affordable housing system was created, and they do not liken to any affordable housing plan in OECD countries.

In the ruling, the Vice President of the Tel-Aviv District Court, Judge Eliahu Bachar, stated that the decision of the Tel-Aviv Municipality, which completely excludes the older population from affordable housing, was not based on a factual reality, and that “all the relevant considerations for the matter and appropriate weighting of each” were not done. The Court added that it is not clear whether or how the city might be affected from the loss of young people, and that the Municipality did not provide a reasonable explanation as to why people aged 45+, who are also leaving the city, are not essential to it and its development, or less essential than younger people. The Judge further ruled that “the reasoning of the Tel-Aviv Municipality does not provide a sufficient justification to the discriminatory effect against retirees and disabled persons.” The Court further criticized that the distribution of affordable housing based on the existing criteria is not followed by the success metrics of the project’s goals, and determined that there was no consideration of less harmful alternatives, such as allotting a certain percentage of projects to families with children.

The Court ultimately allowed the Municipality to conduct the lottery for affordable housing in the “HaAliya Market” complex, since it included only 33 apartments, and 2,200 people had already signed up. With that said, Judge Bachar ruled that the Municipality must reconsider its policies in accordance with the issues listed in the petition and the ruling.

Attorney Tal Hassin: “The ruling is gratifying. The saying “Tel-Aviv is for young people” may sound nice, but the Municipality is responsible for all of its residents. The complete exclusion of the senior and disabled populations from dramatic and life-changing benefits paid for by public funds, for no good reason, violates constitutional rights, and is unreasonable and disproportionate. We will follow the matter and ensure that the Municipality acts according to the ruling, and that the criteria for handling affordable housing in the city are indeed changing”.


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