Menu JTA Search

Experts Offer Plan for Easing Housing Shortage, Assail Current Practices

An international committee of housing construction experts has offered Israel a prescription for easing its severe housing shortage and issued a scathing criticism of present practices which it said was costing the economy “hundreds of millions of pounds annu- ally.” The proposed remedies, including elimination of the red tape that delays the approval of building plans, and the introduction of new materials and construction methods, emerged from a week-long symposium on housing problems that ended here Friday.

The symposium, chaired by New York realtor Jack D. Weiler, chairman of the Jewish Agency’s housing committee, was attended by 15 building experts from abroad, by Israeli builders, officials of the Housing Ministry and the Jewish Agency. Some of the sessions were attended personally by Housing Minister Zeev Sharef and Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive. The technical discussions were chaired by Joseph Newman, vice-president for building research and technology of the Tishman Realty and Construction Corp., one of the world’s largest building firms, builders of the 110-story twin towers of the New York World Trade Center.

The symposium disclosed that it now takes an average of 18 months to get a building license approved. The committee’s report stated bluntly that “Delays due to manpower shortages, unavailability of equipment and materials, bureaucratic decision making, lack of planning and organization and inability to readily adapt to innovations and other constraints are costing Israel’s economy hundreds of millions of pounds annually.”

ISRAEL AHEAD IN HOUSING STARTS

But Weiler told a press conference later that despite this, building starts in Israel have been more than twice those in the New York metropolitan area which has a population of 11 million. He pointed out that in Tokyo, capital of a highly industrial nation, 36 percent of the population lived in sub-standard housing. There are limitations to what can be accomplished, Weiler said.

Weiler said a senior coordinator will be appointed on behalf of the committee to follow through on its recommendations. He said the appointee would be a person who is knowledgeable in all facets of building and who, with the prestige of the committee behind him, would have access to all nine ministries and ministers who presently must approve building plans.

NEXT STORY