|Fighting for the Right to Affordable Housing|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
Gil Gan-Mor was one of the leading members of the Coalition for Affordable Housing who presented a long letter to the Trajtenberg Committee which set out the coalition's demands for solving Israel's housing problem. The Trajtenberg committee was set up by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in response to the mass protests and is tasked with resolving Israel’s pressing socio-economic issues.
In the letter, said Gan-Mor , “We explained that housing is a right, we set targets that people should not be spending more than 30% of their income on housing, and proposed instruments like increasing the supply of housing and raising mortgage assistance."
Gan-Mor, 34, is Coordinator to the Right for Housing at flagship NIF grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). A graduate of NIF's Israel U.S. Civil Liberties Law Program (Law Fellows), he joined ACRI in 2007 and helped found the Coalition for Affordable Housing in 2009 with NIF/SHATIL and a range of social change organizations, including NIF grantees Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights, Community Advocacy – Genesis Israel, and the Association for distributive Justice.
Gan-Mor, who is responsible for policy and legislation within the Coalition, admits that the strength of this summer's nationwide protests did not come as a complete shock. “I am not surprised because I have seen the growing distress,” he said, “but I am surprised they started in Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard. I had expected the protests to be in the periphery where the distress is greater."
Since the protests started, Gan-Mor and other Coalition activists have traveled the length and breadth of the country, giving 70 lectures and workshops in over 40 encampments. "We have spoken to the protesters about how the problem is solved in other countries and what needs to be done in Israel."
Much needs to be done if the battle for affordable housing is to be won, stresses Gan-Mor. "[The current] government policy is that a home is a consumer product like a car, at the mercy of market forces (rather than a right), and it is up to the individual to afford a home. It is also government policy to privatize everything and reduce government involvement in the housing market. But pressure from the people can change these policies."
Gan-Mor also believes that the escalation in the south, including the recent rockets fired on Israeli cities from Gaza, only strengthens the need for government involvement in providing affordable housing. Asked Gan-Mor, "If there is no decent housing in the south, then what incentive is there for people to carry on living in the region?"
Ultimately, Gan-Mor is confident that the struggle for affordable housing will prevail. "I have met so many people in the encampments over the past month and I have seen the depth of their distress and the strength of their determination. This makes me optimistic because I know they will keep the pressure on the government."