Elderly man forced to live in the woods

Dozens of senior citizens are forced to live on the street while waiting for housing units from the state.
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Eliyahu (a fictitious name) has been forced to live in the streets until public housing is available. While he waits for a place to open in one of the homes for the elderly in Jerusalem, he is sleeping in the woods of the Gilo neighborhood.

“I was told it may take up to a year or longer,” he says. “In the meantime, I have no possibility of renting a place.” Once Eliyahu owned several properties, but due to bad financial decisions, he has lost everything including his family. There are an additional 750 elderly who live below the poverty line and await housing. 70 of them live in the street as well.

The Ministry of Housing runs more than 100 homes for the elderly which include 12,000 units. These units are fully occupied. Basically, you have to wait for someone to die. The acceptance process is very long, and even those who have been accepted must wait between 2 months – 2 years for a place.

After the Haaretz newspaper printed this story, Nachman Shai, the head of the lobby for pensioners looked for a solution which would take a couple of weeks. “I am a fighter,” says Eliyahu. “But, I am alone and have entertained suicidal thoughts.”

The Ministry of Housing responded, “After years of neglect, the ministry is working toward change. We strive to correct the plight of the thousands of elderly around the country. Some solutions will be immediate; some may take up to 2 years.”

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