Saturday, January 20

Housing problems in Jaffa

The rental housing situation in Jaffa is becoming ever more problematic. Especially the poor, the elderly, migrants, students and young couples are having a hard time finding a suitable rental appartment.
And houseowners are making lots of money, sometimes on property declared unsuitable for living, but who cares. Sometimes the buildings have even been declared dangerous, but the owners simply take down the signs put up by the municipality.
The latest cynical development in this market is the use of old failing shops as "studio appartments". All over Jaffa, but especialy in the center ("Lev Yafo") and Yafo Gimmel, there are many failed little stores, that have been closed for years. Usually they are quite small (15 - 20 cubic meters is no exeption) and the owner puts in a sink, a toilet behind a little wall and there you have it: "a studio appartment with all amenities". Do not get me wrong, there are some lovely places which once were shops and which have been beautifully renovated and turned into small loft-like living spaces. These go for a lot of money to people who can afford it and like living in a funky, special place facing the street. Some of my best friends etc.
But that is not what we 're talking about here. Imagine a dark, smelly (bad plumbing), humid rathole. Put some iron bars on the window,, a new lock on the door and there you go.
During the sometimes sunny afternoon hours, the inhabitants put their things to air and dry on the pavements, their washing drying in the street.
Sure, there IS worse in the third world, but i wonder how long our wonderful politicians and welfare policy makers would survive in a place like that.
There must be some rules somewhere on what constitutes a house, but even if there would be such, who would imply them.
In the meantime the rent-sharks are having a good time.

Due to the lack of affordable rental housing, rentcontrol and the construction of quality public housing would ofcourse be the logical solution. But in we're living in "a freemarket economy" after all and they keep telling me that it only takes some time but all will get better for all. Now how come i don't really believe that?


J.P. said...

There has to be a national prescription for good housing and the square metres and other "normal" facility any citizen is entiteled to.
But to make your dream come true I think there first has to be somebody
like Godzilla, to sweep a broom through the municipallity and hereby make room for people who do what they promise.

yudit said...

That's the point, i'm not actually sure there is such.
I know there is a definition of the minimum size of a window (and as a result, that became the standard window size in Israeli bedrooms) and the minimum height which also became the standard room height.
I think there are a lot of requirements for details, but given the infamous "palkal" scandal. i think (am not sure) there is an actual definition of what is a "home".
In anty case in Jaffa Tel Aviv, there house-owners are kings, as there is this trend of cutting up 1 big 4 room apopartment into 4 or 5 small "studio-appartments" or "mini-lofts" and rent them out for exagerated prices. Offcially it is not legal, but no one does anything about it. there are many of those in Jaffa.
The worst are the hovels "illegal" migrant workers. I once visited one of those in the area of the old central busstation: it used to be a diamond polishing factory, which had been sub-devided into an endless row of little cubicles, made out of plywood and shuttered off with curtains, for each 5 cubicles there was a shower and little kitchen corner, with A GAZ BOTTLE inside. As the place had been a diamond factory, all windows were barred, so if a fire would have erupted, it would have been a deathtrap. And as the electricity wiring between the cubicles was terrible, a fire could have erupted easily.