The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Jordan

Eligible Palestinian refugees sign up for new housing initiative

[Jordan] An elderly Palestinian refugee woman from Baqaa refugee camp, 20 km west of Amman. [Date picture taken: 10/15/2006]
An elderly Palestinian woman from the squalid Baqaa refugee camp, 30km west of Amman, walks along its narrow unpaved streets (Maria Font de Matas/IRIN)

Palestinians living in refugee camps in the three largest cities of Amman, Zarqa and Irbid were among thousands of low income people who flocked to post offices last week to take advantage of a US$7 billion housing initiative that aims to provide affordable homes.

[Read this report in Arabic]

Only those Palestinians with ordinary Jordanian passports - some 1.55 million of the 1.8 million registered Palestinian refugees - can apply for the cheap housing; other refugees (mainly Gazans who hold temporary two-year passports) are not eligible.

Most Palestinian refugees arrived after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and have Jordanian passports as well as refugee cards from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

The building of 20,500 units has already begun, and as of 2009, a total of 20,000 housing units will be constructed annually, according to Sana Mehyar, director-general of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation. The initiative seeks to provide 120,000 housing units in the main cities below market price, as the government will provide free land and infrastructure.

''To have a house of my own is a wish I did not expect to come true with the high prices.''


No down-payment is required and monthly payments will not exceed one-third of a beneficiary's salary. Owners of the units will not be allowed to sell or lease them, said Mehyar.

Application forms run out

Thousands of applicants gathered in front of Baqaa refugee camp post office over the past week.

"To have a house of my own is a wish I did not expect to come true with the high prices," said Palestinian refugee Emad Khalil, an employee of Amman Municipality.

Khalil said he is qualified for the initiative because he is not a house owner and his salary of $350 a month is well within the accepted range. Only those earning less than 1,000 dinars ($1,410) a month can apply.

Interactive map of Jordan
showing Amman, Zarqa and Irbid

View larger version at Google Maps


Applications ran out at the camp's post office in less than 24 hours, forcing many to turn to the black market to obtain the forms - paying 15 dinars instead of the official one dinar ($1.5).

Most of the Palestinians in Jordan live in crumbling 96 square metre units accommodating an average of seven people. Residents are not allowed to build a second floor, forcing many to start a family in their parents' home.

It is common to see one house sheltering as many as 15 people, say camp residents. Refugees own the houses they live in, but the land is rented by the Jordanian government from its original landlords.

Price surge

Since 2003 over half a million Iraqis have fled to Jordan, mainly to the big cities, helping to drive prices higher. Over the past four years, prices of apartments have nearly tripled, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

"An apartment that used to cost $35,000 four years ago is now sold at $120,000 all because Iraqis badly needed apartments and they did not bargain," said Mohammad Jamil, an estate agent in Amman.

Economist Yussef Mansur said that although the influx of Iraqis contributed to price rises, a general increase in the cost of living and high population growth (4.3 per cent per annum) were also to blame.

The move was proposed by King Abdullah in an attempt to help Jordanians cope with rising inflation caused by the government decision to raise the prices of fuel, food and other basic items.

mbh/ar/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join