Page 38—Suppletnent to The Jewish News—March 16. 1973
Housing for Immigrants: UJA-Agency Role
By GOTTLIEB HAMMER
Immigrant housing has always been one of the most
serious problems in Israel. During periods of increased
immigration, the demand for housing becomes even
more acute and requires extraordinary efforts, both
financial and technical. During the last 25 years, a
variety of expedient solutions had to be found. While
some of these remedies solved the short-term, more
often than not they created long-term problems.
Some of the stop-gap measures employed in the
housing of new immigrants ranged from tents to tem-
porary shacks of canvas, tin and wood. When Israel was
able to begin construction of permanent buildings,
the dwelling units were small and could not take into
account the natural growth of families. Solutions had
to be found, on a limited budget, for the pressing
problems of the day.
Thus, immigrant families who came to Israel dur-
ing the 50s received units of between 300 and 600 square
feet, while the immigrants of today receive units of
between 700 and 1,000 square feet. This has created
a tremendous gap between the early immigrants and
those arriving after the Six Day War and this gap has
raised new problems in terms of social, economic and
education deprivation. For it is known that the lack of
adequate housing affects the progress of a family in all
of its pursuits.
There is no question that enormous progress has
been made in dealing with the problems of overcrowding
during the past decade; however, it is estimated that
today 50,000 families live in conditions of overcrowd-
ing, three or more persons to a room. This statistic
very often means eight or 10 or 12 persons living
in two or three rooms, very often of substandard size
and makeshift construction.
We have been able to provide the necessary num-
ber of housing units to keep up with the increased im-
migration during the post-Six Day War period, but a
lack of resources had made it impossible to attack the
backlog of needs, specifically the building of adequate
apartments for large immigrant families.
The increased immigration did not take us by
surprise, and through the Reconstituted Jewish Agency
a housing committee was established, chaired by Jack
D. Weiler of New York. Its efforts have certainly been
felt in what is a complex area, and its definition of
problems and recommendations for their solution is
a positive step in utilizing the vast resources of the Jew-
ish people. This Committee has now joined with the
Ministry of Housing in creating the TACH (Tech-
nological Advisory Committee on Housing). The com-
mittee provides not only the necessary liaison but more
direct response to the needs of the country in provid-
ing the ongoing technological information required by
the Israel building industry.
Another development worthy of mention at this
time is the creation by the Jewish Agency of Amigoor,
a company set up to manage and maintain the immi-
grant housing units owned by the Jewish Agency, the
United Israel Appeal, and other philanthropic organ-
Upon its establishment, Amigoor took over the
responsibility for 27,000 apartments, mainly in the de-
velopment areas in the north and south of the country.
This year Amigoor will have another 6,000 apartments
turned over to it for processing. These apartments,
especially those built in the 50s, require considerable
maintenance and rehabilitation When originally built.
limited funds did not permit proper planning and de-
velopment. As a result, the Jewish Agency now must
find the funds in order to provide for paving of streets,
lighting, playgrounds, community centers and land-
During 1972, the Israel building industry completed
48,000 housing units. This is approximately 10,000
more than the previous year, and reflects the deep con-
cern of the Jewish Agency in trying to cope with this
problem. This will make possible the housing of ap-
proximately 55,000 to 60,000 new immigrants expected
in 1972; 7,500 flats for needy young families and ap-
proximately 10,000 cases of rehousing of large immigrant
In 1972-73 the Jewish Agency budgeted $298,000,000
for housing. In spite of heroic fund-raising efforts, there
simply wasn't enough money to go around and this
budget item was cut to $149,000,000.
In short, the problems continue and the efforts to
find solutions go on.
During 1973 we will have to find the means to
create more than 50,000 housing units, to improve and
expand 5,000 old units, and to find the means by which
new immigrants and young married couples will be able
to acquire housing, either through rental or long term
The Jewish Agency, as the representative of world
Jewry, has been called upon to solve the distress of
thousands of families whose chief hope for the future
lies in improved social conditions. The Housing Com-
mittee will continue to call on the expertise of Jews ,
around the world to assist in this problem. And the
United Israel Appeal through the United Jewish Ap-
peal will continue to ask every Jew to do his share
to see to it that the massive material resources re-
quired for the solution of immigrant housing problems
in Israel will be made available to the Jewish Agency.
Number of students
in higher learning
PhDs per year in science
•Third highest rate in the world after U.S. and Canada.
"Calculated according to official rate of growth estimates
by the National Authority for Economic Planning.
Employment (in thousands)
Industry and mining
Transport and communications
Utilities, commerce and services
••Calculated according to official rate of growth estimaraS
by the National Authority for Economic Planning.