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*The stunning photo in the header of my blog is all thanks to Ron Shoshani. Visit his facebook page for more of his amazing photographs of Tel Aviv!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tel Aviv Rent Sparks Tent City

PhotoCredit: Ben Hartman, Jpost
Tel Aviv rent has been exploding for years now - some say its even through the roof  - and Tel Avivians have come together to put their foot down.  Over the weekend of  July 15th and 16th, hundreds of citizens, most of them young students and couples, erected a tent-city in the center of Rothchild Boulevard to protest the rising housing costs.

Whether or not the choice to set up camp on Rothchild was part of the original plan, it created a poignant contrast as Rothchild Boulevard  is one of the most central, renovated and affluent streets in Tel Aviv.

PhotoCredit: Motti Kimchi, Haaretz.com
The protest proved to be a great success with protesters uniting in pleasant uprising accompanied by performances from pop singer Efrat Gosh and Hemi Rudner. By Sunday evening, the protests had spread to Beersheva and Jerusalem where rent is also rising steeply and no roof is in place to provide any sort of rent-control.

Protests are expected to continue to spread to Haifa, Netanya and other cities even after Netanyahu lamely addressed the demonstrators, acknowledging the truth of the general housing issue in Israel real estate and asking protesters to come to Jerusalem to help him pass real estate reforms. (Since apparently he is too helpless to do anything on his own).

ArtCredit: Victor Enrich
The truth of the housing situation is obvious. We all feel it, especially in Tel Aviv. Even those who make a good paycheck typically find that approximately 50% of it goes to their landlord and city living taxes.  Students who are doing their best to find the cheapest Tel Aviv accommodation can barely get by.

Ynet interviewed Tal, a 25 year old student who said:

"Housing is a basic right, but there is currently no supervision over housing prices… This is the business of each and every one of us."
And Dafni Leef spoke with The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening saying that she started the movement by opening a Facebook page because:
 “I didn’t see any reason to continue spending more than half of my paycheck on rent each month."
I've personally been moving south ever since I came to Tel Aviv, teetering out of the center of the city where prices shot up, to the southern slums where prices are considered to be reasonable. But after our landlord upped our rent this year by over 15%, I'm starting to think that I might be better off in a tent.

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