Noa Evron
A Fellow at the Argov Fellows Program in Leadership and Diplomacy

Haifa – the Israeli Barcelona

Haifa has it all, beaches, mountains, a vibrant city and on top of everything, it has low housing prices. So, the question being asked is – why isn’t Haifa an alternative to Tel-Aviv? According to the OCED Israel has a “remarkable economy with an average annual growth of 3.3 percent since 2012, low unemployment and strong macroeconomic policy”. Yet, one of Israel’s weak points is the price of housing.

Around the world, every big metropolitan has a core city, in Israel it is common to distinguish four main metropolitan areas; Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Beer-Sheva and Haifa. Yet, the main rush is to Tel Aviv, which increases the cost of living, with a significant emphasis on Tel Aviv. A 4-bedroom apartment in Tel-Aviv will cost approximately 3.5 million Shekels, where in Jerusalem it will cost 2.4 million shekels, and in Haifa it will cost only 1.3 million shekels. So, the question is being asked again – why isn’t Haifa an alternative to Tel-Aviv.  I believe there are 3 main problems that are preventing Haifa to become the Israeli Barcelona, and being an alternative to Tel-Aviv. Furthermore, I believe, that Haifa is the key factor of a domino effect that can help solve the national housing crisis.

One of the main problems preventing Haifa to reach her full potential is the fact that in Haifa the city and the beach are not connected. Looking at Haifa today, there are many obstacles that divide the city from the sea – such as the train and the port. The result of this is that there is simply no access. Unlike another city in the world, Haifa is the only city that as you get closer to the coastal strip, the real-estate prices get lower. This is happening for a very obvious reason: the beach neighborhoods are close to the train and the port, and that, declines the quality of life. The bottom line is, as a Haifa resident explained, that the residents of Haifa are suffering from this issue.

Another major problem Haifa suffers from is the air pollution. For years now, Haifa has been suffering from air pollution at a high and exceptional concentration in terms of the quantities of toxins emitted into the air. The air pollution in Haifa today stems from a number of factors, the most significant one is the presence of a large number of factories operating in a small area. According to the Haifa Environmental Research Center, if the current situation continues, Haifa is facing an 18.5% increase in the risk of infant mortality and a 13% increase in adult mortality. For years, this issue has been damaging the quality of life in the city of Haifa and has caused many people not to move to the city, and has caused even residents living there to leave.

Lastly, a main barrier is the issue of jobs. Today, the further away one is from Gush Dan, the lower the salaries. In addition, there are not enough jobs in Haifa. Unless you are working in high-tech, the chances of finding a job in Haifa are small, leading the population to migrate towards the Dan region. Today, the unemployment rate in Israel is at a historic low, but Haifa is behind.

The question being raised is if we can solve these problems. I believe we can.  It is possible to remove the polluting factories from Haifa, it is possible to build a plan that will connect the sea to the city and it is possible to promote employment in the city. In the end, I believe that by solving the problems that are preventing Haifa from becoming the city she has the potential to be, will make her an alternative to Tel-Aviv. This action will influence the housing crisis by providing other alternatives that will be open of all.

About the Author
Noa Evron is a fourth year Law and Government student at the Harry Radzyner Law School at the Interdisciplinary Center. She is currently participating in the Argov Fellowship for Leadership and Diplomacy, a program that seeks to prepare exceptional IDC students in their final year of their B.A studies for future leadership positions in Israel and in the Jewish world. In the army, Noa served as a navigation guide and commander in the Combat Collection Unit. At IDC, where she is on the dean’s list, Noa volunteered as the head of the social involvement department of the student union and as a fellow of the “StandWithUs” fellowship. She participated in the Clinic for the Rights of People with Intellectual Disabilities in cooperation with AKIM, worked as a research assistant at the Harry Radzyner Law School and spent a semester at Sciences Po university in Paris.
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