Rent revolt hits Jerusalem

Tents spring up in capital and periphery cities as young people spread struggle for affordable housing.

By MELANIE LIDMAN,
July 20, 2011 03:08
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv housing prices tent protest

Tel Aviv housing prices tent protest 311 . (photo credit: Channel 10)

In Jerusalem, more than 20 tents sprung up in Kikar Tzahal, next to Jaffa Gate. The Jerusalem protest was organized by Ruah Hadasha (New Spirit), an activist organization dedicated to keeping young people in the city that sees affordable housing as one of their central struggles.

“The national struggle is important and there are good people leading it and they’re getting their message out, but the Jerusalem struggle is really important because there are concrete solutions for how we can solve the problem,” said Sivan Vardi, the vice president of Ruah Hadasha, who called affordable housing the “most critical fight” for young people.

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Vardi cited the 20-20-20 program, a Jerusalem initiative that would require contractors who are building more than 20 apartments to sell 20% of the units at 20% below market value. This will be discussed in two weeks at the Interior Ministry’s District Planning and Building Committee.

“This program would really change the rules of the game,” she said. Ruah Hadasha and other Jerusalem organizations are lobbying the Finance Ministry and the Interior Ministry to support the proposal.

Tuesday evening, the Jerusalem Municipality announced it had met with leaders of the protest and decided to allow them to remain next to the walls of the Old City until Thursday afternoon, after which they will work with them to find an alternative location.

Like in Jerusalem, the so-called “rent revolt” continued to spread to towns across Israel on Tuesday, reaching even far-off, rent-friendly cities of the periphery like Kiryat Shmona, where student activists from Tel Hai Academic College set up around two dozen tents in the late afternoon.

Student Aviad Rosenfeld, 26, said that housing is a problem even in far-flung towns like Kiryat Shmona, largely because of, and not in spite of, its location in the periphery.

“They tell people to go live in the periphery, but there is no work here or public transportation, and the salaries here are so low that you can barely pay rent even though it is lower,” he said. “Also the prices here have gone up, just like elsewhere. Over the past two years the cost of apartments have risen to where a place that was NIS 1,000 two years ago is now NIS 1800.”


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