Ministries: Lots of New Homes Coming On-Line

Construction of new residential buildings in the Northern Israeli city of Harish. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Flash90
Construction of new residential buildings in the northern city of Charish. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

If all goes to plan, there will soon be hundreds of thousands of new apartments in Israel. A report by the Finance Ministry says that it expects construction to begin on some 60,000 homes this year, while 100,000 homes will be approved this year, with construction slated to begin in 2017. During that year, housing starts and permits could top 100,000, so that within several years, there could be as many as a quarter million homes for sale.

To build those homes, the government will admit some 30,000 foreign workers from Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Asia – in addition to the tens of thousands of Palestinian workers who are already working in Israel, the report said. In addition, according to reports, Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon and Housing Minister Yoav Galant have decided to allow foreign construction firms to enter the Israeli market. The companies, the pair hope, will be able to build more homes more quickly, increasing the supply of apartments and thus reducing their cost.

Five foreign companies would be chosen to build projects in Israel, but they would be placed under significant restrictions: They could only act as contractors for Israeli building firms, they would be be allowed to bring in to Israel only up to 6,000 workers, and they could only work there for a period of five years.

Meanwhile, the Housing Ministry has developed its own game plan, this one for the marketing of affordable housing to first-time homebuyers under the “Occupant Price” program, one of the two (along with the “Target Price” program) designed to bring down the price of housing for those who cannot afford homes in Israel’s high-priced real estate market. Within three years, the Ministry hopes to have marketed 90,000 such homes, with prices at least 20 percent below the market rate, the plan added.