Sunday, June 11, 2006

No place like home: How to end America's housing shortage

I just got a letter from a friend touring Israel and Palestine. "I LOVED Bethlehem," she wrote. "Every Christian in the world should be required to go there -- just like every Muslim is required to go to Mecca. It has the most holy feeling about it. I sat at the place where Jesus was born and my whole soul was filled with light." Okay. I'll put that on my to-do list. As soon as I win the lottery, I'm there!

"Another thing that amazed me," my friend wrote, "was all the housing that Israel is constructing on the West Bank. It's like nothing I've ever seen! Massive blocs of new housing. Massive. The population of Los Angeles could be housed in these whole mountainsides of housing blocs." And apparently a lot of the population of Los Angeles does live there. "Many of these places are owned by Americans who use them as second homes, flying over once or twice a year to spend time in Jerusalem."

My friend was really impressed with all the new housing starts in the West Bank. And apparently they weren't just trailers and shacks. These were upscale condos like you might see in Beverly Hills. Wow!

"I am serious," wrote my friend. "This is amazing. I've never seen so much new housing. Thousands and thousands and thousands of housing units on hillside after hillside. You have to see it to believe it. I am doing a major jaw-drop here."

But what is even more amazing is the subsidies residents get to live here. "People move here, not because they are Zionists but because the rents are so low. Actually, I think they live there for free. And with subsidized utilities too. And parks and fountains and tot lots. I wanna live here!"

Who pays for all this wonderful housing? The United States. So. I got an idea. Since America's housing program is so successful in Israel, let's ask our government to do the same thing here too.