M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentNegbi Aviv
SubjectHousing Cooperatives in Israel: Challenges and Opportunities
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors ASSOCIATE PROF. Efrat Eizenberg
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


A housing cooperative is a legal entity of joint ownership of real estate, with each member owning one share, which grants them rights over one housing unit as well as one vote in the democratic decision-making process. A housing cooperative aims to promote housing stability, grant the tenants control over their living conditions and environment, and offer housing prices below market value. Housing cooperatives operate through human alliance and the creation of a resource sharing and pooling mechanism, and may address various needs.

Worldwide, housing cooperatives are a common model of residence, with about 10% of European housing being cooperative. Nevertheless, this model is virtually unknown in Israel. Considering the Israeli housing shortage and the need for new, affordable and creative solutions, the emergence of various cooperative initiatives following the social protest of summer 2011, and Israel’s extensive cooperative history (in housing as well as in settlement) - the absence of housing cooperatives is becoming ever more conspicuous.

In light of the above, this study explores the possibility of establishing housing cooperatives in Israel, examining their feasibility, the barriers they face, and the opportunities available for them. The study aims to examine the cooperative model for populations that are currently struggling to achieve housing stability in Israel. To this end, we have chosen three population groups for which a housing cooperative might provide a solution: lower-middle-class citizens, low-income households, and single mothers.

The study begins by analyzing and characterizing three models of  housing cooperatives from different countries, each addressing one of the three target groups identified in the Israeli arena, in order to examine their various characteristics’ suitability for Israeli implementation. The second phase included interviews with experts from the field of economics, law, culture, cooperatives, and housing policy in Israel; in order to identify the opportunities and barriers facing the creation of Israeli housing cooperatives. In the third phase of the study, three focus groups were conducted with participants from the three chosen target populations. These sought to learn the participants’ perceptions on housing and housing needs, as well as to delineate their attitudes regarding various housing aspects represented in cooperative housing.

The findings of the study present available opportunities and barriers to overcome in establishing housing cooperatives in Israel, in multiple aspects. The primary barriers include difficulty in securing seed capital and lack of access to mortgages. The opportunities found include the state’s search for new housing solutions in response to the current housing shortage, and therefore its receptivity to new models of housing. In addition to these, the research's finding reinforces previous scholars’ conclusions that the currently prevailing housing arrangements in Israel form a mechanism for reproducing the existing social order.

In accordance with the nature of this study, its key conclusions are practical ones, most of them concerning actions towards removing the obstacles and utilizing the opportunities discovered. Alongside these, there are recommendations for the creation of enabling circumstances, including: the creation of an organizational infrastructure as a platform for housing cooperatives.