Justice Ministry to push affordable housing bill

Protesters, politicians have demanded affordable homes be included in gov't housing reform, but concept had never been legally defined.

August 15, 2011 01:06
1 minute read.
Apartment in Tel Aviv

Apartment in Tel Aviv 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Justice Ministry drafted a legal definition for affordable housing to be used in legislation, presenting it to the Subcommittee on Reforming the Planning and Construction Bill on Sunday.

Last week, committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) threatened to stop the bill’s passing if it did not include “affordable housing.”

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Protesters and politicians alike have demanded that affordable homes be included in the government’s housing reform, but the concept had never been legally defined before.

The Justice Ministry presented Cohen with a preliminary outline of what such housing would include.

Anyone eligible for affordable housing would be able to stay in the home for 10-15 years. The 75-sq.m. homes would be sold at regulated prices, and a certain percentage of every affordable-housing site would be allocated as rental apartments.

In addition, whoever builds affordable homes will receive additional benefits from the state.

Cohen told the ministry’s representatives that “there will not be any underhanded maneuvers in the Planning and Construction Bill – everything must be out in the open.”

The outline’s details, such as how to regulate prices, will be determined after the Justice Ministry meets with other relevant ministries.

The joint Interior-Economics Subcommittee on Reforming the Planning and Construction Bill has been working on long-term changes, to little fanfare, as people continue to demonstrate across the country, voicing opposition to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recently approved National Housing Committees Law.

While the National Housing Committees Bill will be applicable for a year-and-a-half in large construction projects that fit certain criteria, Cohen is working on 619 pages of comprehensive changes to planning and building codes, which have been mostly unchanged since 1965. Both bills are meant to shorten the bureaucratic process in planning new construction, but the reform in the planning and construction bill would change the entire planning hierarchy in the long term.

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