NEW YORK (Apr. 24)
Construction of private homes and apartments must be cut back for a while so that construction of government housing for immigrants and young married couples can proceed more efficiently and at a faster rate, said Jack D. Weiler, chairman of the Technological Advisory Committee on Housing to the Israeli Ministry of Housing and the Jewish Agency. “There is no housing shortage, there is only a housing crisis,” he added.
Weiler was responding to a recent report from Israel that Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir had said the housing shortage in Israel was a myth. This comment was reported several weeks ago in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Bulletin in an interview with Danny Halpern, Sapir’s chief assistant. “We have looked at the figures and we estimate that there are 80,000 apartments and other kinds of dwellings being built in Israel,” Halpern said at that time. “According to what we’ve found, we’ve got more than we need.”
Subsequently, in an analysis of Israel’s current housing problems, David Landau, JTA Jerusalem Bureau Chief, in the JTA Bulletin of April 11 reported Sapir had asked for a cutback in the construction of private homes and apartments and reported Halpern as saying there would be no cutback in government-built housing for immigrants and needy Israelis.
Weiler stressed that his committee had recommended a cutback almost a year ago in the private sector to stem inflation and to facilitate government construction. The present housing crisis, he explained, stemmed in part from a dirth of materials and labor. Materials and labor urgently needed in the government sector, he said, were being “shunted away” for use in the private sector, thus slowing down government construction and creating a “black market” for labor.
In addition, Weiler said that private housing and apartments which are begun and not completed is costly and contributes to inflation. Out of the 82,000 units now under construction, he said, only about 50-55,000 will be completed this year, leaving about 30,000 which will be carried over to 1974. Weiler said the report from Israel did not clarify whether Sapir advocated a cutback in the private sector because of this carry over, and whether he advocated a complete halt in the private sector until it is caught up. The advisory committee had recommended a complete halt in private construction which includes office buildings and some government projects until those units that have already been started can be completed.