600 evacuee families have housing lots, but aren't building

Overall, close to 40 percent of the 1,359 evacuee families fully eligible for housing compensation are building homes or have new permanent homes.

disengagement 248.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
disengagement 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Some 600 evacuee families from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria have housing plots but have yet to start building their permanent homes, a Disengagement Authority source told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend. Overall, close to 40 percent of the 1,359 evacuee families fully eligible for housing compensation are building homes or have new permanent homes. The source said that his numbers were rough estimates and that exact figures on the evacuees' status would be presented to the cabinet Sunday. The resettlement process was originally expected to take two years. Four years since the disengagement, however, only 250 to 300 families are working on or have finished their permanent homes, according to the source. Another 200 families have yet to receive plots, the source added. According to figures presented by the Disengagement Authority last year, 226 families had chosen to take their compensation funds and seek individual housing options by buying new homes. As of last year, only 586 families had housing plots, compared with 900 now. Out of that 900 are the 600 families who have lots but are not building. According to evacuee Dror Vanunu, formerly of Neveh Dekalim in Gaza, it can take two years to build a home once a family has received its plot from the Disengagement Authority. He said he was given his lot in Nitzan, located between Ashkelon and Ashdod, in October 2007 and his new home will be ready only next month. Some 14 months were spent in the planning and approvals process and the house took another eight or nine months to build, he said. Just getting a building permit for the lot once it was received can take over a year, Vanunu said. "Many families are stuck in this phase," he added. Other families lack the funds to build, either because the compensation they received was low relative to the cost of construction or unemployment forced them to use the funds for household expenses. he said. Out of the 250 evacuee families who are moving to Nitzan only 80 to 85 families are building or have finished their homes, he said. Another 50 to 60 are stuck in the permit process and 40 to 50 are in the planning stages, Vanunu said. The remainder are stuck due to financial problems, he added. "I do not see how the rest can afford to build," he said. His family was able to afford to rebuild because both he and his wife have jobs, Vanunu said. On top of that, they took a mortgage, he added. Doron Ben-Shlomi, who heads the Committee of Former Gush Katif Evacuees, told the Post that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must take full responsibility for the matter and push to end the resettlement process quickly. At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu is expected to ask that the Disengagement Authority continue operating until the end of 2010. The last government had voted to disband the authority by the end of this year.