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Government housing reform becomes law
By LAHAV HARKOV
24/12/2013
According to the law, so-called national planning committees will allow for a fast track to approve construction.
 
A plan to increase the amount of affordable housing in Israel became law Monday night.

The bill, renewing the government’s housing reform and expanding its reach, was brought to its second and third (final) reading in the plenum.

According to the law, so-called national planning committees will allow for a fast track to approve construction. The committees will only authorize building plans that include at least 25 percent affordable housing, meaning small apartments, homes that will be available for rent for at least 10 years or apartments rented at low prices.

Construction approved by the special committees will have to be completed within two and a half years.

Opposition lawmakers said the reform was not enough to provide housing to those who can’t afford rising prices.

“If [this law] is the government’s flagship when it comes to housing, then young people are in danger of sinking,” said MK Itzik Shmuli (Labor), who, prior to becoming a legislator, was one of the leaders of the nationwide 2011 housing protests.

According to Shmuli, the law “uses slogans like ‘affordable housing’ but does not make it a requirement.”

He explained that national planning committees established as part of the previous government’s housing policy approved almost 25,000 new homes in 2011, although none fell under the category of “affordable.” Meanwhile, he said, housing and rental prices had increased by almost 50% since 2008.

MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called for public housing to be included in the bill, saying governments build homes in some of the world’s major cities. He added that overpriced housing was the main reason Israelis were leaving the country.
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