The solutions to Israel's crisis will not be found in the 'Free Market' approach favored by the current government, or in a return to the country's socialist origins. Rather, the government should look to New York City, where a hybrid model of public/private partnerships has produced hundreds of thousands of housing units affordable to everyone. By combining public financing incentives that attract private capital, land disposition strategies to promote economically diverse communities, and a wide range of private and nonprofit developers to construct and manage properties, New York could well be the blueprint for Israel.
In 1986, when then-mayor Ed Koch committed almost $3 billion to rebuilding New York City's neighborhoods, city government was New York's largest landlord, owning vast tracts of abandoned buildings in the city's poorest communities. A housing strategy has been adopted by every mayor since (regardless of political party), and Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan is on target and on budget despite a struggling US economy.
NYC rightly understood that city-owned properties' real value was in returning them to the housing market in order to benefit low, moderate, and middle income households and rebuild entire neighborhoods.
The city's housing leaders used flexible land disposition strategies and public financing to ensure affordability to a wide range of income groups and tenure types within communities. The housing created is privately developed and owned by both for-profit and not-for-profit companies, and its underwriting was designed to ensure that a variety of households could either rent or purchase. Not only was affordable housing created, but an entire sector of builders, managers and financers became committed to the improvement of local areas.
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