Afula is set to be the next “growth area” on Israel’s urban landscape, with the signing of a deal to double the number of apartments and homes in the city – and with it, the population. The deal will see the establishment of seven new neighborhoods, with a total of 10,500 new housing units. Currently the city has 50,000 residents, with some 12,000 households.
Participating in a gala signing of the deal this week were Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon and Housing Minister Yoav Galant. Speaking at the event, Kachlon said that “the new tax we are imposing on owners of three or more apartments has brought out a very interesting fact – all those investors have my phone number. I know this is so because it seems they are calling me” to persuade him to drop the plan.
“The ones who don’t have my phone number are the young couples who can’t afford to buy homes,” said Kachlon. “My struggle against the big real estate investors is an ideological struggle. My aim is not to collect taxes, but to create an advantage for young couples. Young couples have no chance of competing against an investor who owns five apartments. The young couple begs for an NIS 10,000 discount, and the investor raises the price by NIS 50,000 without thinking twice. The investors have a great responsibility for our housing crisis. I am being attacked for this law in an unprecedented manner but the crisis is so severe that such unpleasant steps are necessary.”
Galant said that “Afula is an important, strategic city, situated between the center and the north of the country. There is a lot of building here, and the opening of the Valley Railway in November will contribute significantly to the city’s growth. There has been a lot of talk about expanding the city over the last decade, but now over the past year we have been seeing actual results on the ground.”