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AMIDAR , the Israeli national immigrant housing company. It was established in 1949 by the Israeli government, in order to build housing projects for the masses of new immigrants. The government controlled 75% of its shares, and the *Jewish Agency held 25% of its shares. With the steady rise in immigration, however, construction was transferred to the Labor division. Amidar was given the task of proprietor and administrator of public housing: assignment of tenants to the housing projects, maintenance and improvement of the houses, rental and sales of apartments, and organization of community activities. In 20 years Amidar handled approximately 250,000 housing units, placing more than a million people in over 200 housing projects. Amidar's first task was the initial absorption of the immigrants. At first, it even assumed basic municipal functions. It instilled in tenants a sense of initiative in taking care of property and the concept of the citizen's responsibility toward property upkeep. Since housing construction in the early 1950s proceeded according to quantitative rather than qualitative needs, Amidar employed various means to allay premature deterioration and to improve neighborhoods. As a nonprofit institution, Amidar fixed rents according to an immigrant's means at the rate of 7–10% of his average monthly earnings during his first years in Israel. When the immigrant became better established, he was encouraged to buy his apartment with a down payment of 10–20%, and the rest on a mortgage with an interest rate of 3.5–4.5% annually for a period of 25 years. The encouragement of property ownership, initiated in 1955, led by the late 1960s to the purchase of tens of thousands of housing units by their tenants.

At the beginning of the 21st century the tenants in Amidar's apartments were a mix of old and new immigrants. The company managed 60,000 apartments in 200 settlements, among them 2,200 for the elderly located in 30 sites all over Israel. It continued to be responsible for renting empty apartments, rent collection, maintenance, registration, etc. In this same period there was much public agitation among tenants owing to the high price of apartments, which prevented them from realizing their right to buy them.

[David Tanne /

Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]