"Haredim begin buying apartments at a very young age. Rising home prices affect the haredi sector, as well, and haredim are forced to buy apartments in secular cities," Yaki Reisner, deputy CEO of the Z. Landau Group, said at a panel devoted to the rules of the haredi housing market at a Calcalist conference on infrastructure and real estate.
"Either a solution is found for the haredi sector, or it will be forced to take over secular cities – not from malice, but because it's the only way to get hold of an apartment," Reisner said.
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"In the end, secular people don't want to live in haredi cities," he added, noting that haredi buyers were prepared to compromise on location in favor of price, and that haredim had "no need" of soccer fields or shopping malls.
"Integrating haredim and secular populations is correct from a social point of view, but from a housing perspective the needs are different," Reisner explained.
'Haredim won't compromise on food, education, or housing' (Photo: EPA)
Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Asher said that the housing crisis affected everyone, and that solutions needed to fit everyone. "If you want us, the haredim, to be involved – take us as we are. If not, at least do what previous governments did beyond the Green Line."
Asher proposed that in light of haredim "taking over" secular cities, special housing areas should be earmarked for the haredi public.
Rabbi Menachem Carmel, chairman of the housing committee of Degel HaTorah, said that in recent years, Israeli society as a whole had been shutting itself off from its neighbors, creating "isolation" that led to stigmas.
"In Tel Aviv, our institutions don't exist, so we concentrate in places that do offer us (what we need)," he said.
"Nothing can be done about it – the haredim have learned that quality of life means living with people like them. We're past the point of no return," Carmel noted, adding that while the haredi public was willing to sacrifice a great deal for its ideology, it would not compromise on food, education, or housing.
"We would be happy to live in places like Nazareth Illit. I could bring 3,000 yeshiva students there at once – I said, give me a 50% discount on development costs, let me settle them there," Carmel said. "But until a few months ago, my words fell on deaf ears. In Nazareth Illit no apartment costs less than NIS 600,000, which is a shame – because that's what you have in central Israel already."
Tomer Moskovitch, CEO of Meshav, which builds housing for the national-religious public, proposed a compromise, saying that halachic solutions could be found to technological problems posed by constructing high-rise buildings. "It's possible to build for the haredi public in community conditions, without shutting them off – what happens in the smaller building next door doesn't interest me much," he said.
Carmel compared the price of housing lots for the haredi public to that of the cost to secular buyers. "In terms of area, the haredi public demands NIS 500,000 less than secular buyers," he claimed. "We don't need a 60m by 60m kitchen. The cost of 80-90 square meters is NIS 300,000 – add NIS 120,000 for the cost of land, another few tens of thousands and we're still at less than NIS 600,000. But the contractors are asking NIS 1.2 million for an apartment like this and getting it," he added.