With the end of the building freeze, construction has started up in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) communities. In fact, said the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), building jumped 660% in Judea and Samaria during the first half of 2011, as compared to the previous year.
While the statistic was certainly breathtaking, the actual numbers on the ground were less impressive: Construction started on 546 new homes in Yesha communities during the period. Still, it was a sharp improvement over the number of housing starts in the first half of 2010, when only 72 housing starts were announced.
Officials of the Yesha Council said they were pleased with the increase, but that clearly many more new homes were needed. "We need at least 500 new homes a month, not just in half a year, in order to accomodate all the families who want to live in Yesha." Last week, Arutz Sheva reported on how dozens of American families who sought to buy or rent homes in Efrat were unable to do so because of the lack of housing there.
The jump in Yesha construction this year was part of a general trend in all of Israel. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, housing starts rose 14.4% overall during the first half of 2011. But certain parts of the country are set to grow far more than that number implies; for example, there are now 7,950 homes under construction in southern Israel, a 55% increase over the 2,495 home starts in the first half of 2010.
In Asheklon alone, 1,576 new homes are currently under construction – the highest number for any city in Israel. Other cities where building jumped in the first half of 2011 included Kiryat Gat (a 607% increase in housing construction starts), Ramle (252%), Ganei Tikvah (451%), Rehovot (203%), and Yavne (165%).
Even in the already ultra-expensive Tel Aviv and Jerusalem regions, construction was up 28% and 8% respectively. In the north, housing construction starts were up 11.2% during the period.
Altogether, construction began on some 22,000 new homes. The CBS said that by the end of 2011, taking into consideration construction that was started in 2010, there will be some 75,000 new apartments under construction. Those apartments are expected to come “on-line” between the end of 2012 and during 2013, helping to satisfy the high demand for housing, hopefully at more reasonable prices.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Housing Minister Ariel Attias both expressed great satisfaction at the CBS announcement.
“The increasing trend in housing starts reflects the increased successful activity by the government, which we began undertaking as soon as we took power,” Netanyahu said. “The steps we took in the real estate market, including the institution of the Housing Committees Law and the reforms we recently instituted in the Israel Lands Administration, have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the increased availability of housing – and, as a result, a lowering of prices.”