Together for Tel-Aviv: expanding affordable housing for a more inclusive city

About the Affordable Cities blog series and #BetterUrbanHousing
People living in cities across the world are facing the effects of the housing affordability and cost-of-living crisis. OECD Champion Mayors recently endorsed the new “OECD Brussels Blueprint for Affordable cities and Housing for All” at the Brussels Urban Summit where they shared innovative solutions to tackle these challenges and drive more inclusive economic growth. They continue to drive efforts that shape a more affordable, equitable and resilient urban future.

Like metropolitan areas around the world, Tel Aviv-Yafo has experienced a significant rise in house prices in recent years. This increase threatens the diverse demographic mix of city residents, which reflects, to a large extent, the heterogeneity of Israeli society. In Tel Aviv-Yafo, you will find Jews and Arabs, rich and poor, religious and secular, asylum seekers and migrant workers, the LGBTQ+ community and others – all living side by side.

The difficulties in dealing with the rapid rise in housing prices stem largely from the fact that the housing market in Israel is regulated almost entirely by the state and not by the local authorities. Given this, we chose to take the initiative and not stand by idly, so that a population as diverse as possible can continue to live and thrive in the city.

Breaking new ground

In 2012, Tel Aviv-Yafo was the first municipality in Israel to build affordable rental housing for its residents. Over the years, the city built additional affordable housing projects and in August 2022, a comprehensive municipal housing policy was approved with the primary goal of expanding the stock of affordable housing for city residents.

Under the new policy, every new residential project built on privately owned land must provide for 15%-20% of units to be allocated affordable housing. The discount on these units must be set at the maximum rate permitted by law, which is 40% of the market price. In addition, residential projects built on city-owned land must include 50% of affordable rental housing, with the rental price set significantly lower than the market rate and funded by revenues from higher-income households.

Reaching the vulnerable

In this way, we expect to supply thousands of affordable rental units within the next 10 years. At the same time, Tel Aviv-Yafo is working with the national government to improve the regulation of the private rental housing market, to increase the supply of public housing in the city, and to find housing solutions for populations that are in special need, including those living in poverty, people with disabilities, minorities and the elderly.

Our new housing policy is indeed a central plank in our overall toolkit, which is intended to preserve the diverse and inclusive nature of Tel Aviv-Yafo and to ensure that it will continue to be a city for all its residents, even during this era of sweeping economic and global change.

About the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative
Created in 2016, the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative is a global coalition of mayors who meet on a regular basis to share their experience in the pursuit of inclusive growth in cities. Since its inception, over 100 different mayors from around the world have joined the Initiative, contributing their voice to the global debate, and making major strides in their cities toward youth empowerment, sustainable climate policy and support for SMEs. The Champion Mayors will meet at the Brussels Urban Summit on 13 June to drive change on improving housing affordability and cost of living for residents in their cities.

Mayor of Tel Aviv | + posts

Ron Huldai was elected Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo in 1998. To achieve his foremost goal of maintaining the city as a bastion of tolerance, acceptance and democracy, he has actively promoted policies to enhance quality of life for its diverse population. These include: ensuring affirmative action for the municipality’s minority employees; establishing a municipal center for the LGBTQ community; building and funding special education facilities to serve children from all over the country; upgrading services to Holocaust survivors; providing extensive welfare programs; and more.

Under his leadership, Tel Aviv-Yafo has become a major center of culture, high tech and business development, education, social welfare and environmental responsibility. As “the Startup City of the Startup Nation,” the city is the global leader in technological startups per capita, with the world’s highest density of accelerators, several top-ranking research universities and R&D centers for global enterprises.

Mayor Huldai has emphasized returning the public sphere to the residents, with the creation of over 120 kilometers of bike trails, 14 kilometers of beachfront boardwalk and several new parks.

He instituted an ongoing program to renovate the city’s numerous historical assets, which were internationally recognized in 2003 when UNESCO proclaimed Tel Aviv-Yafo a World Heritage Site. In 2014, UNESCO named Tel Aviv a Creative City for its excellence in digital media activity.

As a global city, Tel Aviv-Yafo is part of many international networks including C40; OECD’s Inclusive Growth; the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact; and U20.