Minister of Construction Yoav Galant: “Israel has to build at least 50,000 new housing units annually, of which 10,000 housing units must be designated for the haredi community.”

This past Monday, Galant and senior officials in the Ministry of Construction conducted a tour of haredi cities, for the purpose of studying the gaps in supply and demand of haredi housing. The tour came following a joint research project of the ministry and the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, which concluded that there is a need to build 200,000 housing units for the haredi community over the next twenty years.

 

Minister of Construction Yoav Galant conducted a comprehensive tour, to see from up close the housing problems of the haredi community – in haredi neighborhoods within the larger cities and in exclusively haredi cities. Senior officials of the Ministry of Construction, including Director-General Eshel Armoni as well as district heads, joined the tour, which was organized by the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs.

The tour was conducted following a joint research project of the Ministry of Construction and the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, whose conclusions were adopted by the housing cabinet. The study found a shortage of 200,000 housing units in the haredi community, which the government will have to supply over the next twenty years. According to the study, in 2014 the haredi population numbered 910,500 citizens, constituting almost 10% of the general population. The demographic forecast of the haredi sector for 2035 stands at 1,891,300, which will constitute 17.2% of the general population in Israel.

The research project was led by the Institute’s Head of the Housing Project Yitzchak Pindrus, board member of the Jerusalem Municipality and former mayor of the haredi city of Beitar Illit, and the Institute’s Director of Special Projects Dr. Haim Zicherman, researcher on haredi society and advisor on haredi matters to several of government agencies.

Over the course of the tour, Minister Galant met with mayors of haredi cities: Yaakov Gutterman of Modiin Illit, Yisrael Porush of Elad, Hanoch Zeibert of Bnei Brak, Kiryat Ye’arim Council Head Avraham Rosental and Deputy Mayor of Beit Shemesh, Moshe Montag. In addition, the Minister met with leading contractors and developers for the haredi community.

Galant said during the tour, “Israel must build 50,000 new housing units a year, with some 10,000 units designated for the haredi community.” In addition, Galant clarified the issue of designated housing projects. “If in enlightened, democratic America there are designated housing projects, clearly these can be established here as well. As Minister of Construction, I serve the interests of all populations in Israel, among them those of the haredi community. That is why I intend to develop housing solutions that address the problems of the haredi community. This tour enables an overall view of the issues, and I intend to study them all in depth, together with my staff, in order to create housing solutions in every locale. Already last week we conducted an extensive tour of Elad, and we set processes in motion to solve its housing problems.”

Eli Paley, Chairman of the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, noted, “We are trying to create a situation in which the government will take the haredi public into account already at the long-term planning stage, and not just in solving immediate problems. I hope that the various government offices involved in long-term planning in Israel will adopt the plan, which foresees the building of 200,000 housing units for the haredi community over the next twenty years.”

 

Photos: Lior Mizrahi

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The tour began with Minister of Construction Yoav Galant’s visit to a haredi yeshiva student’s home in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, where secular and haredi representatives of the community discussed the inter-communal tension.

Up until a decade ago, Kiryat Yovel was a completely secular neighborhood.  As a result of the housing shortage in the haredi community, many haredim began buying old apartments in Kiryat Yovel and forming local communities, which necessitated establishing shuls and converting public buildings into religious ones. Following the spillover of haredim into the neighborhood, an intense struggle ensued between veterans of the neighborhood and the new haredi community.

The haredi community in Kiryat Yovel presently numbers close to one-thousand families scattered throughout the neighborhood. With the influx of haredim, more and more secular residents are leaving the neighborhood, increasing the housing supply. Given the market forces at play, the neighborhood is changing. The resulting complex situation is taking a heavy social and municipal toll.

The tour continued with a visit to Yeshivat Knesset Yisrael-Chevron in Givat Mordechai – another Jerusalem neighborhood undergoing haredization

Galant was joined by HaGaon HaRav Yosef Chevroni; City Council members Yitzchak Pindrus and Yisrael Kellerman; alumnus of the Yeshiva and Director of Israel’s Holy Sites, Rabbi Yosef Schwinger; and chairman of the Haredi Institute Eli Paley, who initiated the visit to the Yeshiva within the framework of the Institute’s research project on housing and construction in the haredi sector. 

The tour continued on to Modiin Illit, a haredi city with some 65,000 residents, the vast majority of whom are haredi.

Minister Galant toured Modi’in Illit’s employment center, which services hundreds of haredi women through collaboration between the local authority, government ministries and high-tech entrepreneurs.

Over the course of the tour, Minister Galant met with the mayors of haredi cities: Yaakov Gutterman of Modiin Illit, Yisrael Porush of Elad, Hanoch Zeibert of Bnei Brak, Kiryat Ye’arim Council Head Avraham Rosental and deputy mayor of Beit Shemesh, Moshe Montag

L-R: Yitzchak Pindrus, head of the Institute’s Housing Project; Eshel Armoni, Director-General of the Ministry of Construction; Moshe Montag, Deputy Mayor of Beit Shemesh; Yisrael Porush, Mayor of Elad; Yoav Galant, Minister of Construction; Yaakov Gutterman, Mayor of Modi’in Illit; Avraham Rosental, Council Head of Kiryat Ye’arim; Hanoch Zeibert, Mayor of Bnei Brak; Eli Paley, Chairman of the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs.

At the conclusion of the tour Minister Galant met with haredi housing entrepreneurs, including communal activists and private developers representing a broad spectrum of the haredi sector. The round table discussion covered the economic aspects of haredi housing and its unique characteristics, and focused on barriers to planning and marketing.