Jerusalem buildings 58.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Around 60 young people demonstrated outside the Jerusalem offices of the Israel
Lands Authority on Thursday night to encourage the state to take a more active
role in creating affordable housing in Jerusalem.
The protest was
organized by Awakening Jerusalem, a political organization that aims to keep
young people in the city.
“These are people that are just starting out,
and if the government could help them a little, they could stand up on their own
instead of falling behind,” said Awakening Jerusalem spokeswoman Merav
The purpose of Thursday’s protest was to encourage the ILA to
change the bidding process for building projects in Jerusalem. Currently, the
authority, which owns 90 percent of the land in Israel, sells tenders for land
to the contractors with the highest bids.
Awakening Jerusalem wants the
authority to give the tenders to contractors offering the cheapest price per
apartment, rather than the highest price overall.
Often, the price of the
tender has been so inflated during the competitive bidding process that the
contractors must build luxury units in order to make a profit, and can’t afford
to build housing for regular residents.
The Israel Lands Authority said
it supported an increase in affordable housing, but that it was up to the
Construction and Housing Ministry to ensure that projects included affordable
“Our program to lower the price of housing is to make a
meaningful increase in the amount of housing units available, because when
there’s more available, the price will drop,” said Ortal Tzabar, the spokeswoman
for the ILA. She noted that in 2009 the authority had put tenders on the market
for 22,000 new apartment units across the country, and in 2010, it put tenders
out for 33,000 housing units – an increase of 133%.
challenging because there is so little land available for building in the city,
said Tzabar. The authority has barely any land free in the western part of the
city, and only small parcels available in in Har Homa, Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot,
some of which are already designated as haredi projects.
against helping haredim or families with lots of children [who receive more
affordable housing from the government], because they need it, but it’s not
possible to only help them and not others,” said Cohen.
The same way the
government gives preference to families with lots of children, it should also
give preference to first-time buyers and young couples who work, Cohen added.