Hundreds of public housing units designated for new immigrants will be built in the coming years, it was revealed Wednesday during a meeting of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.

Committee Chairman MK Avraham Naguisa (Likud) called on the Treasury to lower the rent for elderly immigrants in assisted living complexes. According to him, this population suffers more than any other from the high cost of living, because they made Aliyah at an advanced age, have not collected enough pension and live in poverty. In addition, many elderly immigrants are eligible for public housing, but there is a severe shortage of these units. Some 26,000 eligible citizens are currently on the waiting list for public housing.

Haviv Katzav, Director General of the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, informed the committee that the construction of 4,000 public housing units on designated land will be completed by summertime. An additional 1,033 units will be built in the coming years in Rishon Letzion, Kfar Saba and Kiryat Ono. However, he said, similar projects in Ashdod, Haifa and Bat Yam are being delayed due to repeated appeals. Katsav stressed that the state has increased rental assistance for elderly immigrants who live alone.

Eshel Armoni, Director General of the Ministry of Housing and Construction, said the construction of 2,600 public housing units is set to begin this year and is expected to be completed within three years. He said he would respond within two weeks the committee`s decision to limit the rent paid by elderly immigrants living in hostels on their old age pensions to 8% of their income.

MK Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu) blamed local council heads, ”who admitted that they do not want elderly immigrants living in their councils.” Avraham Sharnopolsky of the Hazit Hakavod (”Front of Respect”) organization protested the Knesset`s inability to pressure such local council heads and mayors, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.