One out of five homes in central Jerusalem is owned by someone living abroad, and sit empty for most of the year. With housing prices soaring, a group of students wants to try and make use of the underused apartments.
American Public Media's Marketplace radio show covers the housing crunch in Jerusalem, and an idea to help solve the shortage of inexpensive housing.
"This week is the Jewish holiday of Passover. Thousands of U.S. Jews who own vacation homes in Jerusalem have flocked to the city. When they leave to go back to the states, they'll leave behind empty apartments and some frustrated locals."
"Roy Folkman is the head of the student union at Hebrew University. He and other students were protesting the tough real estate market here. Absentee homeowners drive up market prices and leave few downtown apartments available for students to rent."
"David Uziel is a graduate student majoring in urban planning...He and other students have come up with a business proposal: They want absentee homeowners to rent them their apartments and in exchange the students will manage the properties. Real estate brokers like Lovel have agreed to offer the proposal to their new foreign clients starting next month. Roy Folkman thinks it's a good start."