New­hous­ing hope for Charedim

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEON SY­MONS

THE STRICTLY Ortho­dox com­mu­nity is hop­ing that its hous­ing prob­lems could be eased by a new op­por­tu­nity to build along the Thames Gate­way, east of Lon­don.

Ken Liv­ing­stone, the Lon­don Mayor, has held pre­lim­i­nary talks with com­mu­nity lead­ers about pro­vid­ing big­ger houses in the short-term in Hack­ney and Haringey, the bor­oughs with the largest strictly Ortho­dox pop­u­la­tions.

But look­ing fur­ther ahead, Mr Liv­ing­stone has also raised the pos­si­bil­ity of a Charedi pres­ence in the pro­posed ma­jor de­vel­op­ment of the Thames Gate­way. The first block of hous­ing will pro­vide 7,000 homes planned for com­ple­tion be­fore the 2012 Olympics.

In a spe­cial re­port in Au­gust, the JC high­lighted the prob­lems of young Charedi fam­i­lies in Lon­don and Manch­ester who can af­ford nei­ther rents nor de­posits to­wards own­er­ship.

Mr Liv­ing­stone told the an­nual re­cep­tion of the Lon­don Jewish Fo­rum at City Hall that he will be handed con­trol of the cap­i­tal’s £4 bil­lion af­ford­able-hous­ing bud­get in April.

He al­ready has com­mand of the cap­i­tal’s hous­ing strat­egy, and now also has the power to re­view and amend new hous­ing de­vel­op­ments at the plan­ning stage if he thinks they do not fit the strat­egy. With lead­ing mem­bers of the Stam­ford Hill Charedi com­mu­nity look­ing on, Mr Liv­ing­stone said coun­cils and hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions should be build­ing fewer units for one or two peo­ple, and more for four and five.

“We should be able to ad­dress the [hous­ing] needs of the Ortho­dox com­mu­nity,” he said, “and make sure, where new homes are pro­vided, they fit that need.

“We are work­ing closely with peo­ple such as Rabbi Avra­ham Pin­ter and the Union of Ortho­dox He­brew Con­gre­ga­tions, with whom hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions will work to en­sure that ev­ery­one has ac­cess to houses that are the right size for them.”

Speak­ing to the JC later, Mr Liv­ing­stone said: “The im­por­tant thing is to help where the com­mu­nity is now. We can build small schemes on rel­a­tively small sites.

“The Thames Gate­way will pro­vide 40,000 homes in 20 years’ time. We have to put in in­fra­struc­ture. I know that the com­mu­nity will need to have syn­a­gogues and schools and shops within walk­ing dis­tance — though, of course, they will have to pay for the syn­a­gogues them­selves.”

Rabbi Pin­ter was en­cour­aged by the com­mit­ment to five-bed­room homes. “It is ex­cel­lent that Mr Liv­ing­stone is be­hind this and has cross-party sup­port.”

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