Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Av 5764 - August 9, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Jerusalem Residential Units
by Eliezer Rauchberger

Jerusalem needs 100,000 new apartment units by the year 2020 to meet the city's housing needs Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky said at a special meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee held at the Mayor's Office.

The meeting was called to discuss plans for housing construction on the western end of the city. Rabbi Lupoliansky noted that Jerusalem has the highest rate of public housing construction in the country, with the number of small apartment units built in Jerusalem and its environs five times the rate in Haifa. Many families buy two small apartments and convert them into one large apartment, which reduces the apartment-family ratio.

"In 1998 the government made a decision to expand the city westward," said Rabbi Lupoliansky, "but the plan was downsized and inquiries were made to determine how it would be possible to make Jerusalem neighborhoods denser in order to fit more housing units in. The essential question is how is it possible to maintain existing housing while allowing the city to develop to make it lively and dynamic?"

Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Yuri Stern (HaIchud HaLeumi) said that all municipal development must focus on the downtown area. He noted the city has numerous problems that must be solved such as preserving the downtown, excessive high- rise construction, lack of housing and jobs, etc., saying no solution will be agreeable to all sides and therefore the various parties must try to reach a compromise.

City Engineer Uri Shetreet told the committee that the main reasons for out- migration include the lack of employment, high apartment prices which drive many residents to towns and communities in Judea and Samaria, the changing demographic balance which has made the city less and less Jewish and depleting land reserves.

According to Shetreet in order to confront these problems the municipality, in cooperation with the national government, has decided to act to renovate the city and strengthen the downtown, including improved access, light rail, improving the city's appearance and parks, etc. He says building to the west is the best option to contend with the housing shortage because the lands are publicly owned.

City Council Opposition Chairman Nir Barkat said Jerusalem has become the poorest city in the country and in order for the city to stand up on its feet the upper-middle class must be encouraged to hold onto its share of the city. He also claimed there is constant talk about physical planning while no attention is paid to the issues of education, culture and the environment.


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