Shelters in Lewinsky Park 390.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Tel Aviv Municipality and the LaSova organization opened a temporary shelter
yesterday for the dozens of homeless African migrants sleeping in Lewinsky Park
in south Tel Aviv.
The municipality said the two metal and canvas
structures will be broken down each morning and reassembled at night until the
end of the winter weather.
On Monday evening, around 50 Africans lined up
for free soup handed out by missionaries from a local evangelical church, who
also handed out bibles in several languages. A number of the migrants also
milled around the two shelters, each of which included around 40- 50 cots
covered with thin foam mattresses.
Gideon Ben-Ami, a LaSova volunteer,
said the shelters are a pilot project and if it is successful, the organization
will speak to the city about building additional shelters.
He added that
the city was quick to respond to the request they made this month to set up the
Ben-Ami said that the organization will begin supplying a free
breakfast each morning to the park’s homeless, in addition to the meals they
give out at night.
A number of activists have mobilized this winter to
help migrants sleeping in the park. This month, a Darfurian refugee reopened a
shelter near the park using money pooled from the community, and each night
volunteers have gone to the park to hand out warm meals and winter
The cause began to draw a significant increase in support in
January, after a homeless Ethiopian-Israeli named Yohanes “Yonatan” Barko died
of exposure in the park.
Barko had spent many nights over the summer
sleeping in the tent city that had been set up in the park as part of the
summer’s social justice protests. (The campsite was dismantled by municipality
clerks in September.) The Tel Aviv Municipality currently operates three
shelters that provide food and lodging for homeless people, with shelters
specifically for women, male drug users and recovering male drug
The city estimates there are around 700 homeless people in the
city currently receiving assistance from the municipality.