July 31: Housing and other high costs again bring comments

The housing crisis is not unique to Israel. For years, all over the world people have tried to provide housing for growing populations.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Sir, – Those involved in trying to solve the housing crisis have focused on the limited supply of living units, citing the cost. Suggestions have been made to reduce the price of housing by lowering the cost of land, providing tax incentives, creating instruments of finance and building rental units.
All of these are measures that would alleviate the crisis in the short term. For long-term solutions, new criteria are necessary.
The housing crisis is in no way unique to Israel. For many years, all over the world people have tried to provide housing for growing populations. Some attempts at social housing have been successful, but large-scale public housing has been identified with totalitarian regimes.
One aspect that has been overlooked in proposed solutions is the creation of “factories” for housing. We are used to buying manufactured cars. Few people entertain the idea of owning a custom car, yet when it comes to owning a home most of us dream of a unique villa.
Manufactured housing does not have to be dull and boxy. A real challenge for artists, designers, architects and engineers is to come up with attractive “machines for living.”
I envision mass-produced housing units that can be inserted into planning grids, vertically or horizontally. Each user would select cost, size, style, color, texture and a variety of fixtures and appliances. Just like cars.
The future is coming. We should take up the challenge.
The writer is an architect
Sir, – The antiquated building methods still employed in this country contribute much to the high prices.
In Europe and the US, industrialized building processes are the norm, resulting in much shorter construction times, with a fraction of the manual labor demanded here. If government regulations forced builders to adopt modern methods of building, we would have a faster solution to the housing problem.
There would also be lower costs, no excuses from builders and a much more limited social impact on society due to a reduced need for Palestinian and foreign workers.
If the government would also require green methods for construction, we could join the 21st century in this important industry as well.
Sir, – We must bear in mind that the fault in inadequate housing lies first, last and always with the Israel Lands Authority.
The ILA, a state body, all through the years has refused to release land at a normal price, and has to be reconstituted.
Another priority must be the supervision of contractors by a legitimate, incorruptible governmental authority. Payoffs are too frequent.
Once we get land and once we set profit limits and building codes for contractors, we will have a revolution in housing.
Sir, – I've seen the tents the protesters are sleeping in. I’ve seen the T-shirts that have been manufactured, and the signs that have been professionally printed. All of this costs money, lots of money.
How did a so-called grassroots movement get all of this ready so quickly? Where is the necessary funding coming from? Who really is behind this?1
Sir, – I am way past student age but still very concerned about housing prices for my kids and myself (after having recently moved to exceedingly high priced Jerusalem). I absolutely want and expect the government to continue to address the problem of high-priced housing, and to address other areas where the cost of living can realistically be reduced.
Maintaining a strong economy while caring for the social needs of citizens is an incredibly difficult balancing act for which no country has found the perfect solution. And true problem-solving includes identifying realistic goals. For example, is it realistic for every citizen to own a home? At what age, at what cost? Is it realistic to expect the current government to create a plan this very week to address issues that have developed over decades, issues that require time to be addressed appropriately and professionally? Those who want to make a real difference must also be sufficiently specific in their requests of the government. Otherwise, they run the risk of appearing to be looking for a mildly meaningful activity over summer break.
Sir, – Can anyone explain to me in simple terms what is happening to this country? Everyday, prices are rising! The religious say it is a mitzva to bring children into the world, but with prices so high, who can afford to raise more than one child? Just the powdered milk and diapers are almost half a month’s salary. Mothers of small babies cannot afford to put their children into daycare centers because of the high costs.
What about all the other monthly expenses: food, electricity, rent, municipal taxes, water, schooling for the other children, etc., etc.? In some stores, shoes and clothing for children are the same as for men and women.
With due respect to young couples and students fighting for cheaper housing and better conditions, what about those of us who are middle-aged? Why do we have to pay the most expensive rates? Minimum wages have gone up and will soon be going up again. And doctors and nurses are now fighting for higher salaries. But what about the rest of us? Salaries have not gone up in a number of years, and who remembers when we last received a cost-of-living adjustment? Yes, prices keep soaring higher and higher, and our salaries stay the same. With my salary, I find it extremely difficult to make ends meet by the end of each month.
The banks levy such high service charges for each and every transaction, even to make deposits. It is not worth keeping your money in the bank anymore.
It is better to just invest it in something where you get higher returns and pay lower commissions.
Israel is not America. Our currency is the shekel, not the dollar.
But if life continues this way, we are going to end up one of the poorest countries in the world. Our immigration will go down to zero. People just will not be able to afford to live here.
When I came to this country back in 1974, things were so different and so much better.
Life was so much easier then. So again I ask, can anyone explain to me what is happening to this country? Why has it changed so much and what can we as citizens do?
Kiryat Yam
Sir, – Regarding “First issue of housing protest’s newspaper distributed in Tel Aviv” (July 28), will the newspaper have a classifieds/ rentals section so apartment owners wishing to supplement their income can reach those they would like to see renting their places?
Sir, – It seems ironic that with all the coverage of the housing crisis, in your July 28 paper there are two large advertisements for Tel Aviv apartment developments. One is for two room apartments near Rothschild Boulevard – a mere snip at one and a half million shekels! The tented accommodations nearby surely cannot compare.
These adverts certainly rub salt into an open wound.
Kfar Saba
Sir, – What a flip. Most other front pages have been of terrorism around the world, while here in Israel the big news is protests for low-cost housing. I am not celebrating other people's tragedies, but for this I must say, Thank you God.
Ginot Shomron