Yesh Atid to chair housing cabinet to lower pricing

Coalition agreement between Netanyahu, Lapid calls for implementation of measures to deal with the soaring price of housing.

March 16, 2013 21:26
2 minute read.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at a faction meeting, February 18, 2013.

Lapid at faction meeting 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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The coalition agreement Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid signed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday called for creating a housing cabinet, chaired by Yesh Atid, to deal with the soaring cost of housing.

The cabinet will include the ministers of justice, construction and housing, environment, interior, agriculture, energy and water, and transportation.

Within 30 days of the government being seated, the construction and housing minister is to present eligibility criteria for housing entitlements that replace criteria having to do with marriage with financial need, in accordance with recommendations by the Trajtenberg Committee on Socio-economic Change. The marriage criteria was a boon to the ultra- Orthodox, whose tendency to marry early provided them greater access to housing aid.

More broadly, the policy guidelines in the coalition deal Netanyahu signed with both Lapid and Bayit Yehudi’s Naftali Bennett promised the new government would do “everything in its power” to reduce the cost of housing.

Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi outlined details of a housing plan in identical portions of appendices attached to their coalition deals.

The appendices required the Construction and Housing Ministry to work with the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry to establish a plan for 2013-2014 that would amend the 1960 Construction and Planning Law, encourage building on available lots, reduce bureaucracy and empower the prime minister to head or appoint a chairman for the Israel Lands Authority.

Just before the election, Netanyahu promised to appoint Moshe Kahlon, the outgoing communications minister credited with reforming the cellular phone market, to lead the ILA.

Proposed changes to the Construction and Planning Law would devolve responsibility over housing matters from regional councils to local authorities, a step intended to reduce bureaucracy and strain on the regional councils.

It would increase the permitted space for residential building in designated lots by 20 percent, allow local authorities to designate some housing for “long-term rental” and allow an increase of up to 25 percent of the space in existing lots to be used for residential, commercial or office building.

Land-owners currently not utilizing available land for building will be fined.

The agreements also stipulated ways to make licensing more efficient by eliminating hearing required for submitting building plans, and creating provisions to deal with sewage problems associated with new housing.

Finally, the agreements called to extend the term of 2011’s Construction Law, but amend it within 18 months to allow areas under “national housing designation” to run urban renewal and evacuation/ building programs, which temporarily remove residents to allow for building renovation.

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