Housing Minister Meir Shetreet told the Knesset Finance
Committee that the issue of housing rentals is at the top of
his ministry's agenda and he plans to have tens of thousands
of rental units built within the next two years.
Addressing a committee meeting to discuss the Housing
Ministry budget for 2006 Shetreet said today the supply of
rental apartments is only on a personal basis, when
individuals rent out an apartment, making the supply limited.
Thus young couples want and are forced to purchase
apartments, meaning the majority of their income is spent on
mortgage payments. "Everywhere else in the world the
situation is entirely different," said Shetreet.
He told the committee he has met with housing ministers from
various countries and has reached the conclusion that rental
apartments should be built in Israel with tax benefits for
builders who agree to rent the apartments for at least 25
years. Such an arrangement would provide builders a high-
yield asset for many years and would be good for the
country's young couples as well.
Shetreet said the Kadima platform includes a pledge to build
rental apartments and to reduce taxes from 50 percent to 40
percent or even 30 percent. "If rental apartments can be
built in European countries and in the US, why is it
impossible in Israel?" asked the Housing Minister. "This
would make it possible to solve the entire housing crisis,
especially for those of limited means."
He told the committee he was surprised to discover what a
meager budget the Housing Ministry currently provides in aid
for the disadvantaged. He noted these funds were cut
drastically without any logical reason and transferred
Shetreet said today the Housing Ministry is far from having
the ability to provide the kind of solutions available to
young couples in the past and said he plans to change this
situation and increase funding to help the under class. To
illustrate the cuts at his ministry he noted that a mere NIS
11 million ($2.4 million) is earmarked for neighborhood
social rehabilitation projects and a mere NIS 48 million
($10.6 million) for physical rehabilitation projects intended
to take care of 76 neighborhoods around the country.