The Belz Foundation of Memphis, Tennessee, has granted $500,000 to The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Senior Affordable Housing Initiative, in a philanthropic effort that will address one of Israel’s most acute social challenges.
The severe shortage of affordable and subsidized housing for seniors has left many having to find shelter in storage facilities or end up on the street.
Currently, there is a waiting list of 27,000 low-income Israeli seniors—half of them Holocaust survivors—for subsidized housing.
The Jewish Agency’s Senior Affordable Housing Initiative is a program that is intended to provide approximately 3,000 affordable housing units on 17 sites in nine cities across Israel.
The Israeli government is providing a funding guarantee for half of the project’s construction costs, and will also subsidize 85 percent of the market rate of tenants’ rent for the next 20 years, according to project organizers.
The Jewish Agency’s Israeli housing subsidiary, Amigur, the developer and manager of the project, is currently operating 6,000 units in 57 buildings around the country.
“We are gratified that The Belz Foundation is granting this generous and crucial support to assist some of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Joshua Fogelson, CEO of Jewish Agency International Development.
“In addition to providing a lifeline for an at-risk population sector, increased access to affordable housing for seniors will contribute to the creation of a more equitable, inclusive and vibrant Israeli society as a whole.”
To date, more than $16 million has been pledged towards the Senior Affordable Housing Initiative, including approximately $7 million for the construction of the initiative’s first site, located on Tel Aviv’s Derech Hashalom Street.
Construction is underway at the site, which is scheduled to be completed in July 2019.
The Belz Foundation is joining other major donors, including the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; the Claims Conference; the Coopersmith Charitable Trust; the Iranian Jewish Federation; and Keren Hayesod donors from South America, Sweden and Holland, in supporting this initiative.
“Affordable housing for seniors is not only a crucial element in any community’s infrastructure, but also a true embodiment of the Jewish value of tikkun olam —repairing the world,” said Ron Belz, The Belz Foundation Vice Chairman. “In this context, we are honored to support The Jewish Agency’s Senior Affordable Housing Initiative, a project that puts our values into action.”