Saturday, July 23, 2011

Solving the Housing Crisis

Call me cynical, but with the tent cities popping up protesting the “housing crisis”, I’d like to propose a number of ideas that can solve this problem.

1) Massive construction in Judea and Samaria.

It costs a lot less to build in Judea and Samaria and it can be done much faster than in the built up areas of Gush Dan and Jerusalem. In fact, there are plans ready for 100,000 apartments that can be built within a year, if only permission were given. And best of all. The Shomron is a 15 minute drive to Gush Dan, and Judea is a 15 minute drive to Jerusalem. Wide spaces, empty areas, great air.
What more could you ask for?

2) What about those illegal refugees?

Did you know that they are estimating that some 40,000 illegal refugees/immigrants live in southern Tel Aviv. Something like 10% of Tel Aviv is made up of illegal residents. Even at 4 to an apartment, we’re talking about freeing up 10,000 apartments right there. And from what I hear, southern Tel Aviv was supposed to be developed for student/young housing. If only those illegal immigrants hadn’t moved in. If you want to point fingers…

3) More construction in Gilo, Har Homa, and Eastern Jerusalem.
Thousands more apartments could be built, if only the government had the support of the people stop the virtual freeze of Jewish housing.

4) Support Netanyahu.
While I have some problems with it, Netanyahu’s land reform bill would have freed up lots of state land for housing. Show your support for Netanyahu.

5) Stop destroying outposts and Migron.
You would expect to see a little solidarity here. All these people want is a place to call their own, just like you. Meanwhile the government/IDF comes along and instead of providing that final signature that would make everything legal, it destroys people’s homes leaving them homeless. What kind of sympathy are you looking for, when you don't care about their going homeless?

6) Stop blaming the Settlements
For some reason the settlements have been dragged into this, claiming that they siphon the money away from building in Gush Dan!
Well, the way I see it, with somewhere between 350,000 to 750,000 settlers (depending on who you count), that’s a lot of housing to be built, not to mention schools, kindergartens, shuls, mikvahs…. Where exactly would these people live otherwise? You say yourselves complain there’s no housing anywhere.

You want to send them to the Negev? But you yourselves don’t want to go there!

And how much more does it cost to build a home in Gush Dan compared to a Settlement? 3 times the price? 4? 5? Do the math. Settlements are saving the country space and money. You should be kissing the Settlers feet, because if 700,000 of us (who work for a living) were forced to move, we’d certainly buy up prime housing in Gush Dan and definitely force you out to the periphery. Davka.

7) Stop your violence.
A number of politicians made their way to the tent city to listen and speak to the protesters. Only they found themselves physically attacked. Well only those not associated with Meretz and the Arab parties. If you want to have the people in charge hear you, it doesn't really make sense to pelt them with eggs and beer bottles, now does it?

The conclusion?

Since it’s allegedly the New Israel Fund and the “National Left” that have apparently been buying the tents and helping organize the protests, you’ll never hear these points raised as a solutions to the problem, because the agenda isn't housing (as real as the problem is), the agenda is apparently just another attempt to topple the government.

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Anonymous said...

The high prices of apartments in the greater Tel Aviv area is simply the result of supply and demand economics of a free market economy. Rentals in Lod and Ramle, just 20 minutes away cost less than half of an equivalent size apartment in TA.
For the price of a one bedroom apartment in TA, you get 3 BRs in Modiin, 30 minutes away from TA. You want really cheap, move to the Shtachim. Everyone can't simply live in Kikar Hamdina and Rechov Shenkin.
Imagine if New Yorkers took to the streets to protest the price of high apartment rentals in Manhattan ? Lets face it. These protests are a cynical ploy of Netanyahu's political enemies to bring down the government. Knowing that they can no longer preach the "but just vote for us, we'll bring you real Peace" mantra, they've moved on to plan B. Raise the cost of living to unbearable levels; cause social unrest; place the blame on the Right. Yup, its one way 'sinat achim' season all over again.

Neshama said...

I totally agree! ! ! !

We have lots of land in Yehuda and Shomron so we should spread out and build!

Why is everyone afraid to say the Emes?

Anonymous said...

What Emes is that? That the people in Tel Aviv don't want to live on illegally occupied land and perpetuate the oppression of another nation?

Emes indeed.

Settlers, you think everything is about you...

Anonymous said...

I'd like to extend my house, but the only available land appears to be next-door's garden ...

Anonymous said...

Sheker muchlat ya neveilah. ata mitbalbel bain ramat aviv, haifa veyafo - ubain hayishuvim.

Commenter Abbi said...

anon 10:49: if you offer your neighbor enough money, maybe he'll sell you his garden like many Palestinans have done in the past when they sell land to settlers.

Anonymous said...

Of course settlers can buy land from Palestinians, in the same way that I can buy land from my neighbour.
But my neighbour would rightly be aggrieved if the state took a bit of his garden away from him and allowed me to live there - even if he was paid for that (which the Palestinians are not).
It's really very simple. The territories are not part of Israel. Which of those seven simple English words is confusing?

Commenter Abbi said...

Middle east politics are simple? Really? That's a new one. There's absolutely nothing simple about life here, including the status of the territories. They are not Israel, but they are not Palestine either. They are lands conquered in a war that have an unresolved statues. The sooner that's ameliorated in an equitable and secure fashion, the better.

But reducing me politics to simplistic platitudes does nothing to advance the cause of peace.

Anonymous said...

Someone should tell Moshe Zar that all the Land he bought doesn't make the garden his.

What an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Income from non-commercial property rentals in Israel is tax free up to the first 10,000 NIS per month. Sounds sweet ? It gets even better... the tenant pays 100% of the property tax (Arnona) AND the HOA fees(vaad bayit). If the tenant should ever default on a payment the landlord can go after the co-signers on the lease(Aravim) or opt to cash out the securities left in escrow (shtar bankai). Property values in Israel have doubled or tripled in the last 8-10 years, depending on location. Who wouldn't want that kind of deal ? Compare that to an average home in Teaneck New Jersey where property values have dropped 35% since mid 2007. No wonder why so many American Jews are making Aliya ! I started out in a Mirkaz Klita 10 years ago. Now I own 4 apartments (3 are long term rentals) and I don't have to work anymore or pay any taxes in Israel. Life is good.

Renegade said...

"The territories are not part of Israel. Which of those seven simple English words is confusing?"

So why don't you tell us which Country they are part of.

Anonymous said...

"Are investors the real cause of high housing prices?"

Check out this article from Haaretz:

Anonymous said...

The territories are Occupied Palestinian Territory. Soon- maybe not September, but not far in the future- they'll be Palestine. Officially.

Pretty simple, indeed.

Renegade said...

You didn't answer my question.
I asked what country they're (currently) part of, not for PC terminology or what country you think they might one day be.

Anonymous said...


The OPT is not part of any country since 1967, since Israel invaded and has imposed military jurisdiction. Which is why the rule of law in the OPT is entirely different to that of Israel. If they were part of Israel, that wouldn't be the case.

No PC terminology here: Facts.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous 10:43?

Facts? PC Terminology?

The "West Bank" administered territories were part of the Mandatory Palestine till 1948, when Jordan imposed military jurisdiction.

Are you saying that Jordan didn't impose military jurisdiction from 1948-1967?

Renegade said...

Why are confusing him with the facts?

You still didn't answer my question. You still didn't tell me which country they are part of. (i.e. which country is Israel "occupying"?)

Vox Populi said...

Why build houses in the Territories when you can just build houses in Israel?

Renegade said...


Did you read the post?

Vox Populi said...

>Did you read the post?

No, I just saw the word houses and figured I'd type something.

Renegade said...

"No, I just saw the word houses and figured I'd type something."

I think you're being sarcastic but that appears to be true.

Vox Populi said...

>I think you're being sarcastic but that appears to be true.

Why, is there no room to build houses in Israel? I get why Joe wants more settlements, but there's no necessity or even very good reason, from a housing policy perspective, to favor building in the Territories over building in Israel. At least, not that I can think of.

JoeSettler said...

It is faster and cheaper to build in Israel's territories. The zoning, master plans, and building plans are all ready in place (as are the workers). In fact, the infrastructure is generally ready too. The only thing missing is the Defense Minister's signature (see they're even protesting against the wrong person).

Furthermore there is space available. And rent and purchase prices are not as high, especially considering that best of all, it's 10-20 minute commute from the territories to Gush Dan or Jerusalem.

All the right reasons why it's the better option.

Bassam the Bedouin said...

Joe, Jameel - You've got it all wrong.

We HAVE a REAL solution for the housing crisis: Join the Bedouins in the Negev of Israel, where you can take as much land as you want, build as big a house as you want, and the Israeli government won't dare knock it down, In fact, you'll probably end up getting the land for free!

We've been doing this for years and we're even supported by the New Israel Fund!

Not NIF Larry - the other one said...

Maybe that's why the NIF gave out tents to the protesters.

Vox Populi said...

>The zoning, master plans, and building plans are all ready in place (as are the workers).

A. These are probably not as "in place" as developers would have you believe. I'm sure a fair amount are ready to go, but not nearly enough. My experience with developers and municipalities is that they always exaggerate the shovel-readiness of these projects. Most, then, would have to be zoned and planned anyway.

B. The houses zoned are not necessarily the kind of houses public housing wants to build. But I'd like more information on how Israel goes about providing public housing. Do they just build cheap houses someplace? Do they contract it out? Do they just take the reins off developers and say,"go wild"? Anyone know?

>Furthermore there is space available.

There's space in Israel, too, some of it zoned, I'm sure.

>And rent and purchase prices are not as high, especially considering that best of all, it's 10-20 minute commute from the territories to Gush Dan or Jerusalem.

Why is it cheaper?

Is it cheap because it's cheaper to build, or because they're worth less? I mean, haunted houses are worth less than similarly situated houses, but they're not any cheaper or easier to build - they're just a worse investment. I assume part of the reason land values in the WB are cheaper is because there's a good chance a lot of it will be in another country in a few years, or that for various reasons, supplemental contruction is hard to do - there are always restrictions on building things there.

I don't think construction costs, i.e. labor and material are cheaper when you cross the Green Line, are they?

Also, doesn't the State own all this land anyway? If it's just gifting it to people, I think the expense of land is less relevant (but not irrelevant). But again, how do land sales work in Israel - is there a competitive auction?

I've also read that settlements are cheaper because of various subsidies, but I haven't found anything specific. Are there subsidies? If there are, then those costs need to be factored in.

Also, there are the various additional costs - diplomatic, military and security, that would result from such a course of action.

JoeSettler said...

Part 1
Hi Vox,

Here are some short (but long) answers.

Complete plans for expanding many (and building new) Yishuvim have been sitting in the drawers for a number of years, waiting for final approval and the end of these silent freezes. Every town has a master plan, zoning plans, and where the land has been sold/designated (or almost sold) building plans or at least initial plans on file. Infrastructure is already in place in many towns. We've been in a construction freeze. Not a planning freeze.

Zoning and master plans decide what kind of building is allowed. This is not the Wild West here. You read far too much leftwing propaganda.

I am personally involved in construction of some projects in my Yishuv. We could begin building tomorrow if we could get the final permits. The bureaucracy still slows things down, but still, within a year a lot could be finished.

Construction in the Territories costs much less. We hire local Arab construction companies (that's called economic peace). They pay their Arab workers very nice salaries for the "Palestinian" sector, but far less than an Israeli company would be required to pay over the Green line.

The quality is the same.

As labor costs are cheaper, some material costs are also cheaper (stone, prefab). I've been told that even their fuel is cheaper (but I can't confirm that). All that lowers the overall price.

For our construction I've personally purchased materials at almost half the price. For instance, We've received a quote on caravans for easily NIS 80,000 less that from Israeli firms. The local Arabs love when we build because then they make money and they can afford to buy and build too.

Second, the construction is local, so there is less transportation costs for delivery and hauling away.

Some dirt/rocks can be hauled away at below cost because the local Arab hauler resells it to someone else for a profit. Big rocks have value. I found that out when we dug out.

The demand for housing in settlements is high. I know you don't accept it, but most people are correctly assuming that most settlements will remain, and for many, a home in a settlement is desirable.

JoeSettler said...

Part 2

Land ownership with construction rights typically falls in 2 categories. Privately owned land or State Land designated to a specific township (Kav Kachol). Then there is also state land that didn't yet get a Kav Kachol, but it is clear that it will belong to a specific township.

Private land is sold on the open market like anything else.

State land is usually either auctioned, or given to a regional development company to market and sell. It's all above board.

In certain rare cases, the land is "free", but the owner pays for Infrastructure development instead to a development company. But that is typically for "new" areas that they want to develop. That can also happen over the Green line too.

Sometimes, just like over the green line, Misrad Hashikun may want to build assisted housing for "Zakaim" first time home buyers, young couples, etc. Again, there are usually auctions for the construction rights.

Settlements are not cheaper because of subsidies. The only "subsidies" that used to exist was mortgage assistance. Subsidies similar to those given for purchasing in any town considered a periphery town. Not all Yishuvim qualify under that category. That subsidy could be some thousands of dollars, part in the form of low interest loans, sometimes a small part as a grant.

I don't even know if they offer it anymore.

There are other government subsidies, such as for first time buyers, released soldiers, etc. Everyone can qualify for those anywhere.

I don't think you understand how empty the territories really are. There is a lot of land there, and despite what you may have been fed, it doesn't all belong to private Palestinians (in fact, quite a bit is private Jewish ownership purchased before the State was established).

Your last sentence is irrelevant.

I hope this answers your questions.

Vox Populi said...

Thanks for the answers, Joe, very informative. Hope to reply more fully soon.

JoeSettler said...

How foreboding.

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