PM presents plan to add 50,000 new apartments

Netanyahu: 10,000 student dorms, discounted land slated for rentals, tax incentives to rent empty homes; slams ILA monopoly, bureaucracy.

By NADAV SHEMER, JPOST.COM STAFF
July 26, 2011 11:29
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311. (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior ministers unveiled a plan to tackle the housing crisis Tuesday morning, promising to improve the situation of young couples, students, discharged soldiers and the homeless.

Under the plan, which Netanyahu said would be finalized by the end of next week, bureaucratic barriers to planning and to the sale of land for apartments will be removed, he said. The wide-ranging plan also includes the building of 10,000 dormitory units for university and college students, and the removal of municipal tax exemptions that will force owners of empty apartments to offer them for housing.

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"Next week - and I wish it could be this week - we will take two massive steps. The first thing we'll do," he said, "is remove restrictions on residential planning."
The second step, Netanyahu said, will be to "remove the restrictions for the sale of land for residential [building]."

Addressing housing problems faced by students, Netanyahu said that the state would build 10,000 new dormitory units for university students. "We'll allow for students to arrive from available housing located outside major city centers," he added, citing travel times to Tel Aviv University from Kfar Saba and Lod.

Before detailing his plan, Netanyahu said that bureaucracy is responsible for the shortage of available housing in Israel today, noting that there is "a real housing crisis."

"The main way to lower the prices of apartments in the long term," he said, "is to build a lot more apartments."


The prime minister noted the reforms passed Monday regarding housing planning commissions, saying the move was "a very strong step" that would result in 50,000 new housing units being put on the market within a year and a half.

In addition, Netanyahu said that thousands of housing units designated for rentals would be built throughout the country. The lands for such projects, he said, would be sold at a 50 percent discount, with the savings passed on to the residents.

Speaking before the press conference, MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen said that Netanyahu's plan would see meaningful changes being made "sooner than months." Describing elements of the plan, he sid, "We're talking about immediate changes, including rent prices."

Netanyahu said the plan was two years in the making, adding that he recognized that prices were too high even before the latest rise in the cost of housing. He said he recognized the urgency of taking measures to alleviate pressure on the housing market, saying, “Young people are living with their parents, and soon they will be living with their grandparents.”

The PM released the plan at a joint press conference at his office in Jerusalem, flanked by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, Deputy Minister for the Advancement of Young People, Students and Women Gila Gamliel, and PMO director-general Eyal Gabai,

Protests over lack of affordable housing stretched into the 12th day on Tuesday morning, following a day of protests across the country that saw approximately 100 young people protesting outside the Knesset as its committees were discussing housing reforms. The protesters also blocked roads in Jerusalem and Haifa. Eleven demonstrators were arrested in Jerusalem.

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