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Country-wide Protests against Housing Shortage

Prime Minister Netanyahu cancelled a trip to eastern Europe to deal with the growing tent-city protests around the country demanding a solution to the housing crisis for young couples.

It’s become almost impossible for a young couple to purchase an apartment in the center of the country where there are employment prospects.

Housing Protesters - source-Jerusalem Post

Housing Protesters - source Jerusalem Post

Commenting on the tent protest, Netanyahu said, “The housing shortage is real… Young couples in Israel lack the wherewithal to buy an apartment, because apartments are too expensive. They are too expensive because there aren’t enough apartments, which is because of the government monopoly, which owns over 90% of the country’s land zoned for construction. Israel has the most convoluted planning commissions in the world and it takes more than five years to release an apartment for construction.”

Netanyahu added, “It is necessary to simplify these mechanisms. It took us two years to make these two changes, and this week we’re completing the reform in planning and building commissions and the Israel Land Administration. The government abolished the absurd ban for construction in the Dan Region (metropolitan Tel Aviv), various incentives have been created for contractors and buyers, and more will be created. We have linked up the periphery with highways, which has resulted in 48,000 new housing starts. ”

Here are some of the main points of the Prime Minister’s proposals this week:

• Reform of Land Administration and planning committees: Removal of barriers to marketing of land and to planning of housing units.

• Cheaper land for buying apartments: A 50 percent discount in price of land for construction of apartments, where contractors compete to offer lowest prices to buyers.

• Reduced-cost rentals: Construction of apartments for long-term rental, with 25-100 percent discount on land for contractors that offer lowest price to renters.

• Student housing: Construction of 10,000 new dormitory units for students.

• Cheap public transportation for students: Immediate 50 percent rail and bus discount for university and college students, to encourage them to live outside city centers.

• Municipal tax for empty apartments: Exemptions on municipal tax for empty apartments will be limited to six months.

source – globes.com and jpost.com

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