JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
After taking a close look at the building statistics, Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir feels that the housing shortage in Israel is a myth and therefore plans to ask the Cabinet to reduce the pace of building as a way of curbing Israel’s growing inflation, according to Danny Halpern, Sapir’s chief assistant. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Halpern said Sapir recently concluded from a look at the figures that Israel need not build in larger numbers annually. Halpern said Sapir was the first government official to dismiss talks of a housing crisis.
“We have looked at the figures and we estimate that there are 80,000 apartments and other kinds of dwellings being built in Israel, he said “According to what we have found, we have more than we need.” Housing Ministry officials appear to agree with Sapir that there are too many housing units under construction, but these officials say that the number is too large because the economy and the building industry cannot absorb so many at once. They do not say that the number should be smaller simply because there is no housing shortage, it was reported.
Yehuda Laish, chief assistant to Housing Minister Zeev Sharef, told the JTA that the Housing Ministry would also welcome a cutback in the number of housing units being built as a way of curbing inflation. But Laish noted that, while talk of a housing crisis is somewhat premature now, “we think such a crisis could result in 1973″ if 60,000 units are not built this year.
The housing officials said that of the 80,000 units under construction as of the beginning of 1973, roughly half were for the public sector. Of these, 16,000 are for new immigrants. Government officials estimate that perhaps as many as 90,000 new immigrants will come to Israel in the next two years. Those 16,000 apartments would provide space for between 50-60,000, they said.