Capital's severe housing shortage highlighted on J'lem Day

Jerusalem is country’s largest, poorest city, according to CBS statistics; Barkat: We need 50,000 additional housing units to meet population growth.

Jerusalem residents_521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem residents_521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Ahead of Jerusalem Day, Mayor Nir Barkat vowed to continue to build in all parts of the city at a special Knesset session regarding the housing shortage in the capital.
“We need 50,000 additional housing units in town to meet anticipated population growth in the coming years and we will do this by condensing and expanding into existing neighborhoods,” Barkat said at the session. He said that two-thirds of the 50,000 units would be for Jewish residents and one third would be for Arab residents, in keeping with current population ratios.
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Barkat added that one initiative the city is pursuing is encouraging businesses located in apartments to move into commercial areas, to free up residential areas for housing.
The biggest problem that the mayor is facing in building more apartments is a lack of land. Last Wednesday, Barkat and Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced that Jerusalem had bought 250 dunams (25 hectares) of land from Kibbutz Ramat Rahel in order to build 1,600 apartments in a new neighborhood to be call Morodot Arnona.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, construction was started on 2,090 apartments in 2010, similar to the 2,120 started in 2009 and significantly higher than the 1,590 started in 2008.
Jerusalem is also the country’s poorest city, according to statistics released by the CBS ahead of Jerusalem Day. A staggering 12.1 percent of households have no breadwinner, the highest rate in the country, and more than double the figure in Tel Aviv, where 4.9% of households have no breadwinner. The city also has an employment rate of 46% that was significantly lower than the national employment rate of 57.3%.
The city’s ultra-Orthodox population is growing substantially.
During the 2000- 2001 school year, approximately 57.3% of students enrolled in municipal Jewish schools in Jerusalem were in the haredi framework. In the 2009-2010 year, 64.7% of enrolled students were in haredi programs.
Jerusalem celebrated the 44th anniversary of the Six Day War as both the capital and the largest city in Israel.
In 1948, the city had 82,900 residents, while in 2010, this had grown to 789,000, or roughly 10% of the country’s population.
The city grew by nearly 16,000 residents in 2010, despite the fact that more than 7,000 left the city for Tel Aviv, Ma’aleh Adumim, Bnei Brak, Betar Illit and other destinations.
In 2010, 2,547 new immigrants moved to Jerusalem, an increase of 11% over the previous year.
The city used the holiday to highlight some unique facts about Jerusalem, such as the fact that there are 2,000 archeological sites located within the city boundaries.
Jerusalem also has 1,253 km. of roads, only 28 km. of which are highways.
In an effort to introduce some color into the city’s 80 squares, the city has planted 420,000 seasonal flowers across the capital since Pessah.