housing protest 311.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The housing cabinet on Monday approved a “comprehensive plan” to bring down the
cost of housing by increasing the supply of apartments, developing the rental
market and reducing barriers to real estate development and urban
The comprehensive plan seeks to use IDF land in high-demand areas
to establish residential neighborhoods, provide builders with tax breaks, make
more efficient use of land, agree with local authorities to make rentals more
readily available and put 6,000 new long-term rentals on the market by the end
In terms of urban renewal, the cabinet’s plan seeks to
strengthen incentives for “vacate and build” policies and establish a fund for
projects falling under “Plan 38,” a 2005 program for bringing existing buildings
up to snuff with new regulations. The urban renewal policies closely followed
prior recommendations of a committee appointed by the Prime Minister’s
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who chairs the housing cabinet,
praised the passage, but said a national plan still in the works was ultimately
“The government program that the cabinet approved today
is important, but the real key to solving the housing problems in Israel is the
national housing plan, which will lead to building 150,000 units for long-term
rental in the next decade,” Lapid said.
In the framework of the national
plan, 20 percent of the apartments will be allotted to designated populations
and 5% to public housing.
One thousand units in each major city will be
set aside for students.
Earlier in the day, Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley
Fischer repeated his mantra that housing prices could only come down if Israel
“takes care of the supply side.”
The approved plan takes a multi-pronged
approach, with some portions requiring changes to law, some requiring updating
ministerial regulations, and others simply requiring coordination with local
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar promised to expedite the
plan’s implementation by introducing legislative amendments to existing laws on
issues such as reduced timelines for issuing building permits and approving
Lapid expressed opposition to selling subsidized
public housing to long-term tenants, a practice that has aroused controversy in
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich dismissed the plan
approved on Monday.
“You don’t build a house from a cabinet,” she said,
criticizing Lapid for “more words, more committees, more empty promises. Lapid
broke a record on establishing committees.”
The cabinet will meet again
next week at the request of Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom over how to
gear the plan toward the periphery of the country.