|M.Sc Student||Goldman Laurie|
|Subject||Residents' Perspectives on the Difference That Housing|
Tenure Makes: the Case of Beit Shean's Amidar
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Arza Churchman|
The replacement of social rental housing with mass homeownership cross-nationally has stimulated debates about the meaning of housing tenure and its implications for the life chances of individuals and their physical and social environments. The sale of public housing to residents is one aspect of this trend and provides an ideal context for examining the difference that housing tenure makes for residents of less desirable housing in a peripheral town in Israel.
In light of these debates in the international housing literature, this thesis aims to describe patterns in the demand for homeownership in Amidar neighborhoods in Beit Shean. It seeks to identify residents' preferences for renting and owning in the context of this extreme case and to examine residents' perspectives on the implications of the transition from public tenancy to private homeownership on their financial security, future life chances, and their physical and social environments. The thesis also aims to unpack the bundle of tenure rights and obligations in an effort to identify residents' preferences and priorities regarding the attributes of tenure and the housing characteristics associated with currently available tenure options.
Analysis of the data base for Beit Shean's housing stock and the results of a resident survey revealed that the demand for private homeownership is not solely a function of preference for the tenure or the financial ability to purchase. Rather, eligibility for public subsidies, preference for particular types of housing, and life cycle stages better contributed to our understanding of purchase patterns. We also found that residents of our extreme case were less likely to identify homeownership with higher security of tenure, investment potential, and social status achievement than were residents of other countries and more central locations in Israel.
Although residents' estimates suggested that some purchasers of former public rental units stand to accumulate equity through investment in their homes, other residents doubted the extent of such gains and some perceived purchase as a financial risk. Nor did our findings show that homeownership increased household's sense of financial security or their perceived life chances. The perceived impact of homeownership on home improvements was also mixed and was particularly weak regarding building-wide upkeep. Nor did our findings show that the sale of the units to the residents increases their commitment to the community. These findings do not bode well for the future condition of the housing stock in these neighborhoods, whether converted to private ownership or remaining in the public rental sector. They also point to the limited awareness of mutual interests shared by owner-occupants, tenants, and public landlords.
A trade-off game designed to identify relative priorities regarding the components of housing tenure and the housing characteristics associated with it demonstrated that residents in the extreme case study placed higher priority on factors which were unrelated to housing tenure. It did not successfully identify priorities among the tenure rights themselves.
Our findings point to the need for further research on the role of homeownership in the accumulation of family wealth, ways to assist households strategizing housing decisions, alternative systems for managing and maintaining large apartment blocks in disadvantaged neighborhoods, the repercussions of widespread sale of public rental housing on the future availability of affordable housing in Israel, and alternative forms of housing tenure.