State Refuses to Update Rent Assistance Allowance
In response to a petition submitted by ACRI approximately one year ago, the state recently announced to the Jerusalem District Court that it has no intention of updating rent assistance allowance in accordance with the sharp increase in rental fees. "The amount of assistance granted to the population eligible for rent assistance is not derived from market prices, and is not intended to cover rent," indicated the written response, "Thus, the amount is not updated in accordance with changes in the rental market."
Rental assistance is intended to guarantee eligible members of disadvantaged groups the opportunity to rent an apartment on the free market and to provide themselves and their families with adequate shelter. However, while rent has risen by dozens of percentages in recent years — from 2,330 shekels in 2008 to 3,879 shekels by the end of the third quarter of 2018 — some eligible recipients receive the same amount of aid that they received over a decade ago, amounting to a mere few hundred shekels. In the petition, ACRI demanded that the Ministry of Construction and Housing and the Ministry of Finance update rent assistance grants to individuals receiving income support, and set a fixed mechanism for updating the amount of rent assistance in accordance with changes in rental prices.
The state's response to the petition indicates that the Ministry of Construction and Housing assists approximately 171,000 households — an increase of approximately 26,000 households over the past four years. The total amount of aid stood at 1.96 billion shekels in 2018. The amount of the allowance is determined by the size of the family, the family income level, and the locality in which they live.
Government officials claim that over the years the government has increased aid to various groups, and that the linkage of rent aid to the Consumer Price Index since 2002 will rise by 430 million shekels per year.
Attorney Gil Gan-Mor, the director of ACRI's Social Rights and Equality unit, who submitted the petition: "The freeze on rental assistance despite a drastic rise in rental prices is effectively identical to cutting assistance. Aid is provided to low-income families, and is low to begin with. The lack of an updating mechanism increases the difficulty. Many households find it difficult to rent an apartment or are compelled to leave apartments that they are already renting as they cannot meet the owners’ requirements.
Alternatively, the family will spend vast amounts on the payment of rent at the expense of other basic needs. The government has ignored the Committee to Fight against Poverty and the State Comptroller's demand for an updated mechanism to be set. The government is giving up billions of dollars in favor of the Buyer's Price project, but that must not be at the expense of the most disadvantaged populations that cannot even dream of buying an apartment."
Administrative petition 30187-01-18 Attorney: Gil Gan-Mor