Attias affordable housing plan slammed for favoring haredim

Trajtenberg, social justice leaders condemn proposal, say it favors ultra-orthodox over rest of population.

By NADAV SHEMER
January 25, 2012 18:54
2 minute read.
Social justice protest [file]

Social justice protest 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias (Shas) unveiled his proposal for affordable housing Wednesday, but critics, including government officials and opposition MKs, immediately denounced the plan as favoring his own ultra-Orthodox community.

Under the plan, the Israel Lands Authority (ILA) will publish tenders for affordable housing according to the following criteria: Approximately 45 percent of units will be allocated to families with children aged three years or more; 35% will be allocated to families with children aged one or two; and the remaining 20% will be allocated to individuals aged 35 or more, or to families without children.

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Priority will be assigned, via a points system, to families in which at least one person: Is confined to a wheelchair; served in the IDF or did national service; or actively does reserve duty.

The plan will be brought to ILA management for approval on January 30, and if it passes, will require the signature of Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud).

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov – speaking in the name of his party, coalition partner Israel Beiteinu – pleaded in a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to reject the proposal. Instead of basing it on Attias’s criteria, Meseznikov wrote, affordable housing should be based on the earnings of potential home-buyers, in order to support the working populations that carry most of the economic burden.

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich also criticized the plan, saying it would only benefit wealthy real estate investors, and would force average citizens to find housing in the free market rather than forcing the state to bear responsibility for housing.

She added that the plan would only deepen sectarianism, through the building of separate neighborhoods for the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and secular publics.

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Attias rebutted the criticism on Army Radio later the same day, saying 90% of affordable housing projects would be for the secular public, but that “the middle class cannot be allowed to receive aid at the expense of the lower classes.”

Daphni Leef, who sparked last summer’s protest over the cost of living, said that rather than calling it an affordable housing plan, it should instead be named the “Shas housing plan.”

Various student groups joined in the criticism, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Student Union, which said it would hold a protest on January 30.

“This week Minister Attias proved to us that he prefers sectarian interests over the genuine good of the country. The young people who demonstrated last summer will not allow the government to continue to show contempt for the working public,” Student Union chairman Itai Gottler said, adding that social justice must be for everyone and not just for specific sectors.

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