Knesset Gets $350 Million Plan for Slum Clearance, Better Housing

A five year slum clearance and housing improvement plan that will cost the government $350 million was announced to the Knesset today by Housing Minister Zeev Sharef. Sharef said the program, to commence in April, 1972, would effect 47,000 Israeli families presently living in deteriorated housing, The program was approved by the Cabinet yesterday. Sharef’s announcement was made against a background of rising clamor and mass demonstrations by slum dwellers for subsidized housing. Over the past few weeks modern flats ear-marked for immigrants from Western countries or the Soviet Union have been forcibly occupied by slum families with large numbers of children. Hundreds of young couples and large families have accused the authorities of housing discrimination.

Sharef said the five year program would concentrate on improving the living conditions of persons living in dangerous or unsanitary quarters and families whose members live more than three to a room. He said the government would build 16,000 new dwelling units and would renovate and enlarge existing units through loans and grants. The Housing Minister expressed hope that Jewish investors and builders from overseas would help build new rental housing in Israel. He appeared to be directing his plea to several Jewish builders who were among the delegates to the founding conference of the reconstituted Jewish Agency. The Ministry however has rejected proposals by a New York investment group to build one-story pre-fabricated houses to help ease the shortage of living quarters. The group said the houses could be erected within 32 hours and that they have built thousands of such homes in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Argentina. The proposed pre-fobs would have two bedrooms and should cost about $8,000 apiece. Each additional bedroom would cost about $2,000. One reason given for the Ministry’s rejection of the plan was the high cost of land. The Ministry prefers to build high-rise dwellings on small parcels of land.

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