Coalition Touts Multi-Year Housing Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman gestures during a press conference presenting the government’s new housing reforms, Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli government unveiled on Sunday the latest plan to provide citizens with affordable housing—hundreds of thousands of new units over the next four years.

The plan for 2022-2025 sets a number of planning and development goals based on funding incorporated in the state budget currently making its way through the Knesset, and set to be approved by a November 14 deadline.

A joint statement issued by an interministerial committee promised that the plan will shorten the bureaucratic process and overhaul Israel’s real estate landscape, “already lowering prices in the immediate time-frame.”

On the agenda: starting construction of 280,000 homes over the next four years; advancing plans for 500,000 more housing units; publishing tenders for 300,000 homes on state-owned land, and seeing 180,000 through the tender process.

Alongside those goals were financial measures, including increasing the residence purchase tax for investors to 8%, and lowering taxes for those who build on private land.

Additionally, the ministries recommend banning the use of private homes for businesses in central Israel, aside from kindergartens. They also recommended banning the use of private homes as hotels, such as with the Airbnb vacation rental site, in order to bring down prices.

The government foresees an investment of NIS 8 billion ($2.5 billion) in developing transportation, drainage, and sewage infrastructure; NIS 5.5 ($1.75 billion) in creating new kindergartens and schools; more than NIS 2 billion ($630 million) in developing, planning and removing hurdles for new homes in the Arab community; and NIS 640 million ($202.6 million) to encourage municipalities to approve construction permits.

Various plans to build more and to market at lower prices have been advanced in recent years by previous governments, though they have had little impact on the chronic housing shortage, which has made it especially difficult for young families with limited means to purchase a home.

On the contrary, the cost of buying a home has only continued to soar.

“No single element of this plan will be the magic weapon that lowers prices,” Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman told reporters on Sunday.

“This plan is different from others that have been promoted and not worked because we have multiple ministries cooperating to do everything we can to slow rising prices,” he said.