New Spirit, a secular social movement founded eight years ago by young Jerusalem residents, is throwing its hat in the ring for the fight over Jerusalem's identity.
The group, working with contractors, has set aside 30 apartments in the New Talpiot development on Beit Lehem Road to be sold to young families at a 15% discount. The group is seeking not only to help couples buy homes, but also to strengthen a non-haredi population in the city.
- Rent rises by up to 10% nationwide
Would-be purchasers need to meet a number of criteria: that at least one of the couple is under age 41; that the partners work at least a combined 125% job; and at least one partner is a college graduate. But New Spirit says that the criteria are flexible to a certain extent and every application will be reviewed on its own merits.
How much? The price for a two-bedroom apartment with an area of 92 square meters starts at NIS 1.275 million (about $330,000); a three-bedroom apartment (105 square meters) starts at NIS 1.475 million ($390,000); and a 121-square meter four-bedroom apartment starts at NIS 1.685 million ($440,000).
A 2-bedroom apartment in New Talpiot starts at NIS 1.275 million (Studio Viewpoint)
The contractors – Balilus Group, M. Aviv, and the Rosenzweig and Baruch families, say that the discount is "significant" and stems from a social outlook. But it's also a successful marketing move that sold 30 apartments under construction to a sector deemed "desirable" – which gives the contractors a not inconsiderable advantage as the project progresses.
"We're on to something. Working with the contractors, we've built a model that lets more young couples buy apartments in Jerusalem and start their life in the city," said New Spirit spokesperson Bar Peled. "Affordable housing is a problem all over the country, but I think in Jerusalem it's critical."
Peled notes that affordable housing is one of the main issues New Spirit was seeking to find solutions for – "through a change in policy, but also by taking action. Even if the numbers are small, they make a real difference."
New Spirit, Peled says, hopes that change on the ground will influence policy and that authorities will adopt the movement's approach.
Nor is New Talpiot the first housing project New Spirit has tackled. Last summer, its members opened a housing complex in the city's Kiryat Menachem neighborhood that offered subsidized housing for students. In addition, many members rent apartments throughout Jerusalem that serve as a kind of "urban kibbutz," offering a type of collective living arrangement and seeking to create local power groups.
Elisheva Mazia, director-general of New Spirit, said that New Talipiot was the third group housing purchase the movement had organized. "Each time, it's exciting to see how we open the door for young couples to buy an apartment in Jerusalem at a discount and make a life in the city."