HANDS OF MERCY INTERNATIONAL
HOMELESSNESS IN ISRAEL
sources: official Knesset website, Jerusalem Online
According to a research study on homelessness conducted by Dr. Shmuel Sheintoch of Sapir College, between 2001 and 2016, 610 homeless people died in Israel. After the publication of the research, the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee held a meeting on the obstacles facing the homeless. MK Alkharumi said “I was shocked by this statistic of over 600 homeless who died. These are people who have been abandoned, both in terms of government handling and by society. The main danger inherent in young people landing up on the streets lies in the fact that they will be abused in the form of prostitution and street crime, and it is the entire society who will pay the price.”
Dr. Shmuel Sheintoch who conducted the study on this subject says that the gap between the official statistics on the number of homeless in Israel and the situation on the ground is very wide. While according to estimates, in Israel there are currently between 11,105 and 32,463 homeless, the statistics from 2016 of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services stood at a mere 1,782 homeless. Only 38% of those who were recognized as homeless exercise their right to income security, which stands at a mere NIS 1632 per month, and only 48% exercise their right to assistance with rent.
Eli Gigi, a social worker at the Ofakim Municipality, told the committee of his personal experiences working with the homeless. “I have 16 homeless in the city and I have no hostel. A homeless person who is staying at my house received assistance with rent, but she couldn’t pay the gaps and went back to the street. She is now choosing to stay in a shelter, and tells me how many offers for a place to sleep she gets on the streets in exchange for sexual services. What bothers the homeless the most is the humiliation. The fact that people don’t see them, distance themselves and don’t touch them. Not just the citizens, but also us – the Establishment.”