Kahlon Proposes Billion-Shekel Bond Issue for Housing

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The chronic Israeli housing crisis received an injection of hope on Monday as the social-economic cabinet approved a proposal by Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon to raise a billion shekels to buy 1,000 homes for the public housing stock, Globes reported.

To raise the money, state-owned housing company Amidar will turn to investment institutions and the banks with a bond issue. The proposal calls for a ten-year repayment plan to be financed from the state budget.

This adds to a billion shekels already allocated to buying public housing units in 2017.

A recent report produced by the Ministry of Justice characterized the situation of public housing in Israel as “dismal, to the point that we cannot describe in detail all the problems.”

However, the plan already faces new obstacles, as the very officials who were expected to implement it will soon not be around to do so. Amidar chairman Isaac Laks and seven of the eleven directors are leaving the company, most of whom participated in formulating the bond issue scheme. A dispute between Kahlon and Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant appears to be holding up the search for replacements, according to Globes.

Kahlon was optimistic, though, in remarks on Monday:

“The government will not abdicate its responsibility towards those entitled to public housing. I would stress that Amidar will remain under state ownership and will not be privatized. This is good news for hundreds of families that have waited for too many years for a roof over their heads from public housing. This move will dramatically shorten the waiting time for an apartment and will shorten the queue. This decision is part of the just fight to narrow social gaps in Israel.”