In early March 2020, the Central Bureau of Statistics published figures about Israeli households, based on the workforce survey conducted in 2018. The figures pertaining to apartment ownership are interesting. Of 2,587,000 households in Israel, 67% live in apartments that they own, while 28% rent their apartments (90% of these are private rentals, with 7.6% paying rent to a public housing company, and the remainder to a different body). A further 3.2% live in rent-free apartments; about one percent in assisted living, and about 0.3% in “key money” apartments. Therefore, the vast majority of households (2,385,000 or 92%) rent from a private individual or own their apartment. Of these, 27% are tenants (renting privately), while 73% own the apartments in which they live.

Two main groups can be identified in the 16 major Israeli cities (where the population exceeds 100,000) – in one group the percentage of those renting from private individuals is similar to the national average (Petah Tikva, Rehovot, Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beit Shemesh), and in the second group, the percentage of these tenants is higher than the national average by more than two percentage points (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, Netanya, Ramat Gan, Bat Yam, Holon, and Kfar Saba). Rishon Lezion is the only major city where the percentage of households which rent from a private individual is significantly lower than the national average. In our fair city, 38% (or 78,300 households) rent from private individuals, while 62% (or 118,400 households) are apartment owners.

Approximately 54,000 Israeli households rent their apartment from a public housing company. Eligibility for public housing is based, among other things, on earnings, and those who qualify comprise a very weak sector of the population. About 2,300 public housing households reside in Jerusalem, where they constitute 0.9% of households, a lower percentage than is found in most of the other major Israeli cities. A relatively low percentage of households in public housing in Israel include those who are employed (50% as compared to 80% of all households), but it is noteworthy that in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, the number of such households that contain people who are employed (68% and 66% respectively) is decidedly higher than in the country as a whole, and in the other major cities.

It may be that there are more opportunities for employment for members of weaker population groups in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or perhaps it’s the reverse. Perhaps in these cities there are jobs for which the salaries are so low, that one may be employed and still be eligible for public housing. A sobering thought.

Translated by Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann