Throughout its history, JNF has been instrumental in developing communities in Israel and today plays a central role in creating and supporting communities in the northern and southern regions.
Ninety percent of Israel’s population is concentrated in less than 40% of the country, leaving the northern and southern peripheries largely uninhabited. The population density in the center of the country, and the accompanying strain it places on all sectors of public services as well as on the environment, is rapidly approaching critical levels. The government of Israel has declared the development of the northern and southern regions to be one of its highest priorities, and JNF plays a central role in this endeavor.
JNF develops new housing sites for immigrants, young Israelis fresh from military service, and seniors, all of whom are searching for affordable housing options. But community development is about much more than housing. It is about enhancing quality of life by creating parks, playgrounds, and youth centers; partnering with other organizations like the OR Movement and local municipalities to provide employment and education opportunities, promote tourism, and improve transportation; building reservoirs and agricultural infrastructure to bring economic viability to newly developed areas; and generally enhancing the self image of a town, allowing residents to take pride in their community.
JNF focuses its efforts on the Negev Desert through its Blueprint Negev initiative. New communities are being built to give families an alternative to Israel’s crowded and expensive center, and existing Negev towns that have suffered from high unemployment and stagnant population growth for decades are being bolstered. Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev, is undergoing a renaissance with the construction of a 1,700 acre riverfront park, an extensive environmental and economic development project.