Homeless person on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel's homeless population has reached 2,300 people, almost half of whom were born in the former Soviet Union, according to a Welfare Ministry study released Monday.
The study, the largest of its kind in 15 years, found that about a third of Israel's homeless were in Tel Aviv, while Haifa had 9%, Jerusalem 8% and Ashdod about 5%.
Of the 268 homeless people interviewed in the study, the most common reason given as to why they were homeless (24%) was substance addiction to drugs or alcohol. Another 17% cited economic problems or lack of money, while 10% said their situation resulted from mental or medical illnesses.
The survey found that just 17% of those respondents had neither addictions nor mental/physical illnesses. Some 39% said they were addicts, 21% were mentally ill, and 23% had a physical ailment.
While almost half of the homeless population--48%--are olim from the former Soviet Union, about a third (32%) were Israel-born Jews, and 6% were Israeli Arabs, a figure relatively low relative to the proportion of Arabs in the general population. Some 3% were Ethiopian-born Israelis, somewhat higher than their prevalence in the population.
Welfare Minister Haim Katz said that, as temperatures drop, the ministry has been making efforts to distribute blankets, hot drinks and food, as well as absorb the needy into emergency facilities. But the rise in homelessness in Israel necessitated a different approach, he said.
"I believe that we must examine the development of a long-term solution for the homeless, and I have instructed the professional bodies to submit proposals on the topic," he said.