Homeless Man in Jerusalem Gets a Home in Wake of Haaretz Report

City hall puts 'Amos' up in hotel, says it will place him in residence for elderly shortly.

A poor elderly man in Jerusalem in need of state housing, August 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Following Monday's Haaretz report on homeless elderly people waiting for placement in Construction and Housing Ministry residences for senior citizens, the Jerusalem municipality said that Amos, the man featured in the story, will be given an apartment shortly.

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant also said that within two years there would be new apartments available for the indigent elderly throughout the country. Aside from Amos, who has been waiting for a year to be placed in Beit Shemesh and has been living in the street for three weeks, 750 other elderly people are waiting for a placement; 70 of them are living in the street.

After Monday's report, the head of the Knesset caucus on the elderly, MK Nahman Shai, and the Yedid Association for Community Empowerment, contacted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Galant. The city said that a place for Amos was becoming available in Beit Shemesh and he should get it in two to three weeks. Meanwhile the city has put Amos up in a hotel.

“This year we signed an agreement to build 2,600 units especially for the elderly population in cooperation with the Jewish Agency,” Galant said. “The ministry is closing the gaps that developed over the years in terms of construction. We will see the results of some of the plans only in two years, after the construction and renovation process is finished.”

Shai said, “The Housing Ministry must learn from the municipality and work urgently to assure solutions for the other 70 senior citizens living in the street, because no place has been found for them in the state sheltered housing to which they’re entitled.” MK Itzik Shmuli also wrote to Galant about the matter and he plans to convene the Knesset despite the recess for a special debate. According to Yedid deputy director Ran Melamed, “The simple, outrageous fact is that there’s discrimination between the realistic rental assistance given to families waiting for public housing, while such realistic assistance isn’t given to individuals, and certainly not to the elderly waiting for sheltered housing.” Elderly individuals awaiting placement get at most 1,000 shekels ($265) a month, nowhere nearly enough to rent anything.