So far, over 32,000 people have signed up for the opportunity to purchase discount apartments in the grand Price Resident Lottery, the Finance Ministry said Monday. The lottery, which opened two weeks ago, will continue through the end of June, at which time those who participated will be informed of their eligibility, and which lotteries they will be contending for. Some 45,000 people are said to be eligible for the program, so officials are expecting the number of applicants to rise before the lottery is closed.
Applicants will be vying for the opportunity to buy one of 15,000 new apartments which will be offered to applicants of the Price Resident program, which provides discounted housing prices for eligible young families, with home prices 30 percent under market value. The latest lottery is seeking purchasers for thousands of apartments in in-demand areas, including Rishon LeTzion, Rosh Ha’ayin, Herzliya, Beit Shemesh, and many more in central and northern Israel, as well as in Be’er Sheva and Ofakim in southern Israel.
Most of the apartments are still in the planning stage, but Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said that all permits and procedures “will be implemented. It will take time, but they will come.” Providing assurance that that would be the case was Housing Minister Yoav Galant, who said at the press conference that his office was up to “the challenge the finance minister has presented us. We have worked day and night to bring this about.”
The lottery actually consists of hundreds of small lotteries, as opportunities to purchase homes are raffled off in individual communities, not nationwide. Applicants to the program will be informed in the coming weeks of whether they are eligible to participate in the lottery at all, and which communities they will be contending for homes in. When they applied, applicants had an opportunity to list the communities they preferred, but the rules of the lottery do not guarantee that they will be able to participate in those specific lotteries. Those chosen in a community lottery will be given the opportunity to buy a home with the Price Resident discount.
The program is not without its critics. Speaking at a Knesset discussion on housing, MK Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Mozes pointed out the large numbers of homes to be built, including 12,000 in Petach Tikvah, 7,000 in Umm el-Faham and 3,000 in Kiryat Ekron – none of which were areas chareidim traditionally lived in. In addition, the apartments being built were clearly not meant for the chareidi public, MK Rabbi Mozes said. “I have seen the plans for these homes and they are high-rises,” which will make it impossible for people to leave their homes on Shabbos, “and they do not have sukkah porches. How long will chareidim be discriminated against in housing?”
Besides that, MK Rabbi Mozes added, he saw the Price Resident program as a “bluff. Even those who win the lotteries and are given an opportunity to buy an apartment are disappointed, unless they are already wealthy. The banks, as directed by the Bank of Israel, have made it much harder to get a mortgage, and many buyers cannot handle the repayment conditions. The Bank of Israel takes care of the banks, the Finance Ministry takes care of the state, but who will take care of the 2 million people who cannot pay their bills as it is? Who will provide them with housing?”