Court Decision Guarantees Affordable Housing

Last week, a Jerusalem court ruled that two major building projects in the city, already approved by the National Housing Committee, are to be scrapped because they did not include affordable apartments.

At a time in Israel’s history when poverty afflicts nearly a quarter of the population, this precedent–setting decision will have major repercussions for housing projects throughout the country.

The court ruled that builders must adhere to a recently passed law requiring that 25% of the units in major building projects (more than 200 units) must be either small apartments, long term rent-controlled rental apartments, or apartments offered at a reduced price for qualified buyers.

The court case was brought by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)-led Coalition for Affordable Housing, along with Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Itach-Ma’aki and others.

The petitioners asked the court to examine the way the committees, which must approve all major housing construction, interpret and implement the law regarding affordable housing. Until now, these committees have ignored the law when approving construction plans.

“The decision is a clear statement that affordable housing must be part of the planning process,” said Omer Cohen, SHATIL’s housing and planning coordinator. “On the ground, it means that many more affordable housing units will be available to people who need them.”

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December 2014