'Refugees of Greed' Demand Affordable Housing

Dozens of people demonstrated yesterday at the intersection between Ra'anana and Kfar Sava against the shortage of affordable housing for young couples in Israel, particularly in the central region. Protesters called for the government to free more state lands to be allocated for subsidized residences aimed at first-time home buyers.

The rally, organized by the Social Movement for Affordable Housing, included lawmakers like Miri Regev (head of the Knesset's housing lobby on behalf of Likud ), Eitan Cabel of Labor and councillors from a number of cities in the Sharon region.

Demonstrators waved Israeli flags and placards bearing the words "The Sharon region - for rich people only" and "Housing Minister: Go home!"

The movement behind the rally recently launched an online campaign calling for the state to "immediately allocate lands in every region of the country [for private residences] in light of the country's natural population growth and for the benefit of future generations."

'It's a farce'

Movement chairman Herzl Dalal said yesterday, "Unfortunately over the past few years affordable housing for young people just hasn't been built. The young generation is unable to live in dignity - the state has led us to a situation in which we're forced to live below the poverty line. It taxes young people repressively, then sends them food packages for the holidays. It's a farce."

Naor, a 27-year-old software developer from Petah Tikva, told Haaretz he decided to join the rally after he and his fiance despaired of finding a reasonably priced apartment to buy.

"I have about NIS 300,000. We looked everywhere, but couldn't find anywhere decent," he said. "And I'm not talking about Tel Aviv or Ra'anana - I'm talking about suburbs of Petah Tikva and Netanya. I don't want to live in a scary neighborhood."

Cabel told his fellow demonstrators, "The housing situation reflects the story of a large and growing group in Israeli society that is carrying the burden of army reserve service and taxes on its back, but cannot afford to buy an apartment."

Regev said, "It's unacceptable that a young couple can't buy a home because four- or five-bedroom apartments are selling for NIS 1.5 million. Homes aren't only for the richest among us."