Sunday, July 16, 2017

Housing Projects – Israeli Style

Dafna Shemer

One of the repercussions of the 2011 housing protests was that recent Israeli governments, and the current minister of finance in particular, have taken measures to lower the housing costs. For now it seems we’re still in trouble, though, given that the total number of monthly salary installments required to purchase an apartment in Israel (according to Ministry of Construction and Housing data for the first half of 2015) amounts to 146, whereas in 2009 the total was 116.

The project Mechir Lamishtaken (“Buyer’s Price”) was launched in an effort to address the growing housing crisis in Israel. Through this project developers compete for discounted land to construct affordable housing for first-time homebuyers who meet certain qualifications, and the apartments are then offered for sale by lottery. As of 2016, a total of 7,600 apartments were offered in tenders. In Jerusalem the total was 501, and tenders will soon be announced for 407 apartments. The (501) apartments offered so far amount to 18% of the annual average for construction starts in Jerusalem over the past five years. The apartments offered so far in the context of Mechir Lamishtaken were mainly in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo (86%), and the remainder in Pisgat Ze’ev. The average apartment size is 116 square meters (Sq m.), which exceeds the 2016 average for Jerusalem, at 81 Sq m.

The media has pointed out that apartments in the Mechir Lamishtaken program are generally larger than typical, and so too in Jerusalem: 40% of the apartments offered through the program have 5 rooms, and 35% have 4-4.5 rooms. According to data on construction starts in Jerusalem published by the Central Bureau of Statistics, only 20% of apartments under construction in Jerusalem in 2016 had 5 rooms.

The prices of apartments that have been won by lottery are published on the website of the Ministry of Housing and Construction, and as promised, their prices are lower than average for the relevant neighborhoods. An apartment in this project in Ramat Shlomo costs NIS 12,900 per Sq m. whereas the typical cost, according to the Madlan website, is NIS 19,700 per Sq m. – a difference of 54% per square meter.

In Pisgat Ze’ev the cost for apartments in this project is NIS 9,500 per Sq m., compared with the average cost of NIS 16,200 per Sq m. – a difference of 69% per square meter.

Mechir Lamishtaken reserves a number of places for “locals”: 38% of the lottery winners in Jerusalem are Jerusalem residents, 22% are from the Tel Aviv District, and another 20% are from the Central District. A relatively small proportion of winners are from the environs of Jerusalem: 4% from the Jerusalem District (excluding the city) and 8% from the Judea and Samaria District.

The next tenders are expected to be announced in Gilo and Malha, thus maintaining the trend of using available peripheral lands in implementation of the project. The attractive price and “brand newness” of the apartments are plusses, but the locations are less attractive in terms of public transportation and, as a result, access to places of employment.

Translation: Merav Datan

Monday, July 10, 2017

Who I talk about when I talk about running

Yair Assaf-Shapira

On Friday, March 17, I awoke to a cool, quiet morning that felt like a holiday. There was almost no sound of cars, because many roads were closed for the Jerusalem Marathon. It’s a complicated morning for shopping and errands and a hassle for many of the city’s residents, but for my family it was a happy occasion to set out to the starting line.
According to a Municipality statement, more than 30,000 men, women, boys, and girls participated. The Marathon website recorded about 17,000 runners in the competitive 5, 10, 21, and 42 kilometer races. The overall age range was vast, with about 140 runners aged 70 and above, most of whom registered for the 10K race, and nearly 1,000 runners below age 15, of whom about 900 registered for the 5K race. The runners included children, elderly, and every age in between, but the largest age group – numbering 3,500 – was 15-19 years. These were easily identifiable among the runners: high school students, soldiers, and many young Jewish visitors from abroad. Each of the other age groups had fewer than 2,000 runners.

Men accounted for 63% of all runners in all the races. The highest participation rates for women were in the 5K (where they accounted for 49% of the runners) and 10K (42%) races.

The most popular of the races was the 10K, in which 8,000 men and women participated. This distance was especially popular among the 15-19 year olds, who totaled 2,200. Apparently the 10K is characteristically a young people’s race. So how about the longer races?

It turns out that the longer distances, which require a great deal of mental stamina, actually attract older runners. The largest age groups for both the 21K and full marathon were the 40-44 and 45-49 year olds. In each of these age groups, 800 runners participated in the 21K and 270 ran all 42 kilometers.

This year too, it was a wonderful experience to run with my family (4 people in 4 different age groups) and thousands of other runners throughout the streets of Jerusalem.

Translation: Merav Datan

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The apartment is always bigger on the other side

Lior Regev
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

A few months ago the 2017 Arnona (municipal tax) invoice landed in our mailboxes. Next to the total payment due, the invoice notes the size of our apartment, at least as it appears on the municipal registry.

Arnona taxes are one of the main revenue sources for local authorities in Israel, enabling a range of services for residents. Besides size of property, what determines Arnona rates is the property’s use, namely, residential, commercial, services, and the like. Jerusalem has four Arnona districts, each with a different rate per square meter.

As a general trend, apartment sizes in Israel have been steadily increasing over the years. Crumbling public housing, where three children shared a bedroom, might have sufficed in the past, but today every toddler demands a private room. Moreover, living rooms have become a permanent and ever-expanding fixture. And why make do with one bathroom, when we can have two? It is interesting to look at the repercussions of this trend for planning in Jerusalem.

Residential buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1960s offered relatively small apartments. The times demanded housing for hundreds of thousands of new immigrants, and the budget was scant. As of 2015, 56% of the apartments in Kiryat Yovel, 34% in Kiryat Menachem and Ir Ganim, and 43% in the Gonen (Katamon) neighborhoods (A-I) were smaller than 60 square meters (m2).

A decade later, in the 1970s and 1980s, there began to be constructed the large satellite neighborhoods, designed in advance with larger apartments. In 2015, 54% of apartments in the French Hill, 55% in Gilo, and 57% in Neve Yaakov were 61-100 m2 in size. In Ramat Eshkol, another neighborhood constructed during this period, about 60% of the apartments were in this size range. Interestingly, apartment sizes vary among the neighborhoods built during those years because the planners wanted to attract diverse groups. Apartments in the range of 61-80 m2 account for 41% in Neve Yaakov, 40% in Ramat Eshkol, and only 20% in the French Hill.

Jumping forward to the 1990s and 2000s, the trend towards larger apartments continues unimpeded. In two neighborhoods built during those years, Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa, most apartments exceed 80 m2 (82% and 74%, respectively). For the sake of comparison, only 3% of apartments in Ramat Shlomo and 2% in Har Homa are smaller than 60 m2.

So how big will apartments be in years to come?

Translation: Merav Datan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Under Construction

Yair Assaf-Shapira
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

During 2015-2016 (January 2015 through June 2016, a total of 18 months) construction was started on 70,600 housing units in Israel (provisional data, new buildings only).

The scope of construction in a particular region or locality reflects a number of factors: policy considerations, such as an interest in directing home-buyers or renters to a certain area; means of development, such as approved building plans; and a demand for housing in that region or locality. It is difficult to separate these factors, but the bottom line is that extensive residential construction will likely contribute to demographic change: more residents will be able to remain in or move to the locality.

The cities that saw the most construction were Jerusalem (3,700 construction starts), Tel Aviv (3,300), Netanya (2,300), and Petah Tikva (2,200). These four cities, however, have large populations, and it is not certain that the additional construction will have a strong impact on the population size. So where is construction likely to have a significant impact in relation to population size?

During 2015 (January 2015 through June 2016), for every 1,000 residents of Israel, construction was started on 8.4 housing units. The major cities, which need large numbers of housing units in order to accommodate population growth, were unable to reach this figure. In Jerusalem 4.3 units were started for every 1,000 residents, and in cities with a population between 200,000 and 500,000 (Tel Aviv-Yafo, Haifa, Rishon LeZion, and Petah Tikva) 6.6 units were started. The figures were higher for cities with a population between 100,000 and 200,000 (such as Netanya, Be’er Sheva, and Holon), at 9.2, and for cities with a population between 50,000 and 100,000 (such as Kfar Saba, Herzliya, Hadera, and Modi’in), where construction was started on 8.7 units for every 1,000 residents.

Smaller localities saw even more new construction of housing units in relation to their population size. For example, in localities with a population between 10,000 and 20,000 (such as Tirat Karmel, Ariel, Hura, Tel Sheva, and Kafar Manda), 12.1 units were started, and in rural localities (moshavim, kibbutzim, and the like), 11.4 units were started for every 1,000 persons.

The population growth correlated with construction trends: in cities with a population above 200,000 it was below average, and in the smaller localities it was higher. The sharpest increase in population during 2015 was recorded in rural localities, at 2.9%. Jerusalem, by comparison, had a population growth of 1.9%. It should be noted that population growth depends on a number of factors, not only on construction.

Translation: Merav Datan