Tel Aviv apartment 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Opposition and coalition MKs slammed affordable housing legislation by Knesset
Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee chairman Amnon Cohen (Shas) in a
Cohen inserted a chapter on affordable housing to the
reforms in the Planning and Construction Bill, which have been ongoing for
nearly two years, and told the government that he would not bring the revised
bill to a vote if the new chapter is not included.
“There is a failure in
the housing market,” Cohen said in a committee room packed with activists and
MKs. “We cannot say the market will take care of itself – the government must
According to the Shas MK, he and the committee’s legal
staff proposed many ideas to Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias and
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, about half of which were rejected. The
current version of the affordable housing chapter states that municipal planning
must include solutions for affordable housing, and provides assurances that the
percentage of affordable homes in the market will remain the same.
addition, the bill seeks to prevent the creation of slums by spreading
affordable housing throughout the country and in different population
Opposition MKs in the meeting, however, took issue with the fact
that there are not clear guidelines for the pricing of affordable
Cohen explained that he cannot give exact prices, because there
are no government commitments on the matter, but he hopes that continued
negotiations will change the situation.
According to the bill’s current
text, some homes will have prices 20 percent below the market value, while most
prices will be determined by supply and demand in the market.
should let the market run the state? Maybe it will do a better job than the
current government,” MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima) said.
MK Nachman Shai
(Kadima) said that the new plan will not make homes more affordable, and that
there needs to be clearly low prices for those with low income.
and your party do not solve this problem,” Shai warned Cohen, “it will devour
MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) said that he hopes the final
version of the bill will cure the government of its “too-blind faith” in the
free market, which he opined always benefits the rich.
Another point of
contention in the meeting was the Israel Lands Authority’s eligibility criteria
for its affordable housing program, which were announced on Monday following an
agreement between Netanyahu and Attias.
The program stipulates that the
ILA publish “price for occupancy” tenders according to the following criteria:
45% of units will be allocated to families with children aged three years or
more; 35% to families with children aged one or two; and the remaining 20% to
individuals aged 35 or more, or to families without children.
will be given in half of the tenders to specific sectors of the population,
according to a points system: Men who served in the Israel Defense Forces will
receive 20 points, and those who performed military or national service will
receive 10 points.
Married couples will be eligible for up to 70
MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu) echoed Attias following
the ILA’s announcement, telling the committee that those who “carry the
country’s economic burden” by working and paying taxes should be allotted more
Kirschenbaum and MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Israel Beiteinu)
demanded that the criteria be part of the bill, saying that without it, the
affordable housing chapter will be futile.
Daphni Leef, one of the
leaders of last summer’s social protests, said in the meeting that she does not
understand how a bill on affordable housing can be proposed in the Knesset,
while the criteria are determined elsewhere.
“This is a matter of logic,”
she said. “The price of affordable housing should match your salary, what you
are able to spend.”
Cohen responded that ministers determine criteria,
“There is no housing solution for tomorrow morning,” he
added. “An instant solution would be the government’s decision. They can decide
in an hour.” The Knesset, however, writes laws, and that takes more time, Cohen
explained.Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.