Tel Aviv Fast-tracks Affordable Housing Project

Municipality expediting construction of 69 apartments in south Tel Aviv in wake of housing protests; project planner says it 'will allow the middle class to buy an apartment at a reasonable price.'

The Tel Aviv Municipality is scheduled in two weeks to publish its first tender for the construction of affordable housing. The project is slated to be built on a four-dunam  (1-acre ) plot of municipal land in the Shapira neighborhood, a disadvantaged area of south Tel Aviv.

The project consists of 69 apartments, about two-thirds of which are to be allocated for people who meet certain criteria having to do with Tel Aviv residency and maximum income.

South Tel Aviv - Tali Mayer - July 2011
Tali Mayer

The project was approved by the Local Planning and Building Council about five months ago, but the city has decided to expedite construction following the tent protest on Rothschild Boulevard.

The plan calls for three buildings consisting of three- and four-room apartments, most of which will be about 80 square meters. The buildings are to be arranged around an internal yard that will serve as a green area.

The planner, architect Orit Milbauer-Eyal, said the project will be a "contemporary interpretation of public housing in Israel" combined with high construction standards.

"This is a win-win situation," she said. "The project will allow the middle class to buy an apartment at a reasonable price and will significantly leverage urban renewal in the neighborhood, which consists today of a poor population."

The project will be marketed as soon as a contractor is selected by the tender. To qualify for the project, applicants must live in Tel Aviv for at least five years and earn no more than NIS 12,500 - either individually or as a couple. They also must be able to pay back a mortgage of NIS 3,000 a month. The price of the apartment will be set as a condition of the tender.

Tel Aviv City Councilman Arnon Giladi (Likud ), who is chairman of the municipality's affordable housing committee, said the project is the first in a number of such projects planned by the municipality.

However, he added, "municipal lands are limited relative to the huge demand in Tel Aviv. If we don't get cooperation from the Israel Lands Administration, we won't be able to influence the prices of housing in the city."

The municipality is to convene the first public conference in many years on public housing in Israel, to be held Sunday at 6:30 P.M. at Beit Ha'ir on Bialik Street, with the participation of city officials and planners.