The Jerusalem Municipality’s ongoing effort to procure affordable housing for the capital’s growing number of pluralistic young families achieved a victory Sunday, after tenders for 128 housing units were approved exclusively for less observant Jews in the city’s predominantly Orthodox neighborhood of Ramot.

The announcement was made by the Israel Lands Authority, which awarded the tenders to a secular entrepreneurial organization that worked with the Jerusalem Awakening movement to provide the housing at significantly reduced prices for secular and moderately religious residents.

For over 20 years, the increasingly ultra-Orthodox northern Jerusalem neighborhood has been a flashpoint in ongoing tensions between haredim and secular residents vying for living space in the capital that reflect their respective values.

The conflict came to a head in Ramot last June, when over a dozen haredi rabbinical leaders demanded a boycott of the neighborhood’s relatively new mall due to “immodestly dressed” saleswomen and “objectionable” background music.

According to Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkowitz (Jerusalem Awakening), who helped spearhead the deal, along with Mansogroup, which was awarded the tenders, the homes will populate a growing new pluralistic community within Ramot called the “Country Neighborhood.”

Berkowitz said the pluralistic community inside the increasingly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood is planned to ensure that less observant Jews maintain a presence there to encourage a cross-section of Jewish families.

“This is a major achievement for Ramot, because it will include a new pluralistic population,” said Berkowitz on Monday. “We are going to bring hundreds of Zionist families to this neighborhood. It’s helping the image of Ramot, and it’s helping the image of Jerusalem.”

Of the 128 apartments expected to be completed within three years, 48 will have four rooms, 44 will have five, 24, three rooms, and 12 will have six rooms. All the apartments are being sold below presently prohibitive market prices.

The homes will be divided among numerous multi-family residential structures on approximately 18,000 square meters of land.

Although the costs of the apartments are subject to change, their present minimum listing will be tens of thousands of shekels less than their counterparts on the market.

A three-room unit will start at NIS 1,150,000, versus an average cost of NIS 1,300,000; a four-bedroom unit at NIS 1,420,000, instead of NIS 1,500,000; five-room apartments will start at NIS 1,560,000, instead of NIS 1,700,00; and the starting price for the six-room units will be NIS 1,800,000 instead of over NIS 2m.

Additionally, 25 more units may be approved in the coming months, bringing the total of new tenders to 153, Berkowitz said.

Through the lobbying efforts of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the Defense Ministry has designated large swathes of the Country Neighborhood to be been allocated for the families of IDF soldiers and police officers, Berkowitz said.

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