Saturday, September 16

Evil Private Owners, Rent Control and Public Housing

Ha'Ir , one of our local rags in Hebrew, runs a series of articles of on rental housing in Tel Aviv. (Jaffa is a part of the Tel Aviv - Yafo municipality).
This week's article is on rent control and i can only say one thing: RENT CONTROL NOW!!

Tel Aviv's (and Jaffa's) greedy and mostly evil house-owners are inventing tricks to raise the rent on a weekly base. Contract? Whadayamean you have a contract? So what "contract"?. Thankfully, my own current house owner has been decent so far, and the rent i pay (so far, so far) is reasonable. (touch wood, cross my fingers, hamsa hamsa hamsa). You think i'm superstitious? Actually i'm not, but having been forced to move from one appartment to the next so many times, "one cannot be careful enough", so there i go, "hamsa hamsa" once more.

Rental prices in Jaffa are on a continuously rising slope. The worst hovels go for prices for which you can rent a villa in the rest of the country. Contracts have become monstrous and nobody seems to care very much.
People pay more than 50% of their income in order to rent a small flat.
As Israel's housing market is basically based on home ownership, it means you can never save enough to make the first downpayment for a mortgage to buy your own home.
The problem is has been getting worse over the last few years and house owners can basically do what they want. Flats which 2-3 years ago costs 400 - 500 $ a month go now for as much as 700 - 800 $ a month, whereas wages have not gone up.

Free market economy? Supply and demand? We seem to be going towards a social catastrophe!
Poor people are supposed to receive aid in housing, but that aid is limited. Social housing projects are bad and have turned into slums over the years. The better ones have been sold on the private market and in all of Jaffa only one social housing building has been contructed in the last 10 years!!

We can learn form other countries: rent control is one idea.
Another good idea is to have social housing as part of regular housing, that is, council houses are not all concentrated in one neighborhood, but a certain percentage of all housing projects constructed in the area. It prevents the creation of slums and allows also the poorer people to live in a decent environment, with decent services and good condition houses.

Jaffa's public housing estates are literally falling apart. Much should be done about this, but first of all, decent housing for a reasonable price should be seen as a basic human right.

Short and long term planning should be part of the municipality's program for Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
The private rental market is driving people towards more poverty, as well as homelessnes.

A first good step would be rent control.

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