”The housing issue is a burden on large segments of the population, and the dream of owning an apartment is fading,” State Control Committee chairperson MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) said during a discussion on the state comptroller`s report regarding the housing crisis in Israel. ”We must make sure that the lessons of past mistakes have been learned, and that the state comptroller`s recommendations are a part of the Housing and Finance ministries` plans.”
Elharrar requested that the ministries specify their goals with regards to the marketing of housing units in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including their location and expected price range. She vowed to make certain that the state meets its apartment quotas for the coming years.
Liora Shimoni, representing the state comptroller, said housing prices increased significantly between 2008 and 2013 due to the gap between supply and demand.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) said his office operates according to the principle of ”a free economy with social sensitivity,” adding ”this week we managed to reduce apartment prices by NIS 300,000, and in the coming weeks some 1,000 apartments will be marketed in Kiryat Motzkin at a price that is NIS 400,000 lower (than in previous years).” According to Kahlon, about 25,000 apartments will be available at similar rates by the end of the year, and in the coming year some 70,000-80,000 apartments will be offered at these prices.
Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Gallant (Kulanu) told the committee that housing prices have gone up over the past decade. ”The population here is growing significantly, and we will need more than a million apartments in the coming years. We`ve lowered by 20% the price of apartments for young couples that are purchasing their first apartment,” he said.
Avigdor Yitzhaki, chairman of the housing directorate at the Finance Ministry, said the ministry has been working mainly to increase the supply of apartments, and noted that some 97,000 apartments are currently being constructed – ”an all-time high.”
”There is no shortage of land, but contractors must have available workers,” he said.
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) called to restrain the demand for apartments and begin building public housing units, while MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) said it is the state`s duty to provide affordable housing and assisted living facilities. MK Orly Levi-Abekasis of Yisrael Beitenu said most Israelis can`t raise capital on their own. ”The Treasury is suggesting that we refrain from buying apartments and continue to rent for the rest of our lives,” she added.
Nissim Bublil, president of the Association of Contractors and Builders, said ”in the past we declared that we will be able to offer apartments for NIS 600,000-700,000 – and now we are doing it.” He suggested bringing more construction workers from China, saying such a measure would reduce the time of construction from three years to only a year.