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One in four Israeli seniors cannot afford heating
By DANIELLE ZIRI
01/10/2013
Survey shows around 160,000 individuals are unable to pay for house heating this winter, must choose between food or heating.
 
One out of four senior citizens in Israel – about 160,000 individuals – cannot afford to pay for central heating in their homes this winter, according to a recent survey released by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

The survey also revealed that the same number of elderly people find themselves having to choose between spending their money on food, medicine or heating and that some have to give up on basic necessities to pay for electricity in the winter.

About half of those who said they have had to forgo heating this winter reported that they had often done so in the past as well.

In addition, the data collected showed that one in five seniors has had to give up the use of hot water on average three times a week in the past couple of months.

“The situation is very bad,” 68-year-old Vicky Malka told The Jerusalem Post on the phone from her apartment in the capital on Thursday. “I don’t have a way to heat up my house and it is very cold here.”

Malka, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease which prevented her from staying on the phone for long, explained that the recent rains and snowfall worsened her situation.

“Every winter is hard for me, but this one is the worse. Soon I will run out of electricity, and I can’t heat up water for showers. I have nothing,” she said.

Malka explained that her Talpiot apartment is in bad condition in general, with a lot of mold and a rusted fridge.

“I have no strength. People need to understand that old people are in very bad situations; the government needs to understand that and increase the allowances, instead of continuing to cut them,” she said.

“I am ready to fight for this.

We, the seniors, are ready to make a lot of noise until they start understanding,” she added.

“I want to cry sometimes when I watch the news on TV and nobody talks about old people.”

Eighty-year-old Elsa Caspinov of Safed said she knows cold weather from her hometown, Moscow, but noted that there, every indoor area was well equipped with heating devices.

“Here, my wood floor is freezing. It’s hard, this winter is very hard,” she said.

“We’re doing with what we have. We have a heating system but we turn it on for an hour and then turn it off because it is very, very expensive here.”

Caspinov explained that she and her husband have been layering their clothing at home to keep warm.

“We often say that Safed is just like Siberia in winter,” she added.

The fellowship’s survey, which was conducted for the second year in a row and sampled 400 seniors, also showed that 28 percent of the respondents reported that their economic situation had worsened in comparison to last year. About a third of them reported that they needed financial assistance for heating, pharmaceuticals, transportation and other basic needs, while 60 percent believe that the government is not doing enough for the elderly.

The fellowship begun its annual “Warm Friendship” operation earlier this month with the goal of providing some 16,000 seniors with financial assistance in the sum of NIS 500. In addition, the fellowship started distributing some 11,000 blankets to elderly people who need them.

These benefits will be given out in 110 towns considered cold according to the National Insurance Institute’s criteria.

This includes 68 Jewish communities, 41 Arab towns and one mixed municipality.

Priority is given to people 75 and older in need.

This year, the operation’s allocated budget is approximately NIS 9.4 million.

Since 2006, the fellowship has spent over NIS 75 million in similar initiatives and assisted tens of thousands of seniors in need.
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