Over 27% of Israelis live in poverty - LATET

Over 27% of Israelis live in poverty and 774,000 children, nearly a third (31%) of all children in Israel, live with food insecurity.

 A homeless person sleeps in the street on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on September 23, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
A homeless person sleeps in the street on Jaffa Street in downtown Jerusalem on September 23, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

27.6% of Israelis live in poverty and 23.6% of Israeli households are on the brink of poverty, according to the 19th Alternative Poverty Report by LATET, an organization that combats poverty and food insecurity in Israel.

The report found that out of the Israelis living in poverty, 1,118,000 (36.9%) are children. The poverty rate in Israel has risen since the coronavirus crisis began, with 233,000 more families facing economic hardship since the pandemic began.

The middle class has also shrunk substantially during the crisis, falling from 58.3% of Israeli society to 48.3%, according to the report. 

LATET found that those living in poverty face extreme difficulty receiving basic needs.

633,000 (21.8%) families in Israel, one out of every five, live under the shadow of food insecurity. 774,000 children, nearly a third (31%) of all children in Israel, live with food insecurity. The cost for food to provide basic nutrition to a family of five in Israel stood at about NIS 3,186.

Overall, 1,942,000 (25%) of all Israelis suffer from food insecurity, the report found. Nearly a third (29.5%) of those requiring aid for food security only started needing aid since the coronavirus crisis began.

77% of those supported by LATET and its partners said that the food they could buy was not enough and that they did not have enough money to buy more. 52% of those supported said that they narrowed the size of their meals or skipped meals due to a lack of money. 48.4% reported that they do not have enough nutritious meals.

77.3% of organizations that provide food reported a rise in requests for aid compared to before the pandemic.

10.5% of those supported do not have a permanent dwelling and are either homeless or live by family, friends or in shelters. 22.9% reported that there is a high or very high chance that they will need to leave their homes due to an inability to pay their rent. Nearly half of the average salary of supported families goes towards housing.

40.4% of those supported have had their electricity or water cut off in the past year due to an inability to pay their bills. Three-quarters (75.4%) of those supported reported that they could not have serious defects in their apartments fixed due to economic reasons.

Nearly three-quarters of those supported suffer from at least one chronic disease. 38.9% were infected with the novel coronavirus, 3.2 times the infection rate among the general population. 15.6% of those receiving aid suffer from mental disabilities, 4.9 times the rate among the general population.

68% of those receiving aid gave up on medical care because they had no way of getting to treatment. 67.5% of supported families were forced to give up on buying medicine or necessary medical treatment because they could not afford it.

87.2% of those receiving aid say their old-age pension is not enough to fully meet their basic needs. During the coronavirus crisis, 16.6% of the elderly supported expressed fears that they would die in their homes and that no one would know.

Israelis living in poverty also face job insecurity, with 29.7% of those supported reporting that there was a high or very high chance that they would lose their jobs. 56.5% of those supported stated that a health condition kept them from working or improving their work status.

80.8% of those supported were left without any moneymakers in the family or had their income harmed during the coronavirus crisis. Nearly half (49.6%) of supported families were left without any moneymaker in the household during the pandemic.

The average living costs of families supported sit at about NIS 8,405, 62.4% (NIS 5,177) higher than their average income, according to the report. Nearly half (44.4%) of those supported estimate that they and their family members have no chance or very little chance of getting out of their economic hardship.

Over half (56.5%) of those supported reported that they grew up in a family which lived with economic hardship. 46.5% reported that an illness or disability of theirs or of one of their family members is the reason for their economic hardship.

69.2% of those supported do not have a high school matriculation certificate and 48.4% never finished 12 years of school. 75% reported that a lack of computers made it difficult for their children to learn during the pandemic. 73.6% reported that they were not able to buy basic learning supplies or textbooks for their children.

Over half (51.6%) of those supported were unable to place their children between the ages of 0-3 in educational frameworks because they could not pay the costs, a rise of 12.7% compared to 2020.

"The Alternative Poverty Report 2021 deals, for the second year in a row, with the social impact of the ongoing coronavirus crisis in our country," said Gilles Darmon, president and founder of LATET. "While the main conclusion that emerges from the report is that COVID-19 continues to significantly harm the most vulnerable classes as well as the middle class, it seems that it will still take some more time to measure the full extent of the damage caused by the pandemic in social areas such as education, and its impact on the overt and unseen dropout of students from the system. Meanwhile, despite the observed economic recovery in many areas, efforts to help 'coronavirus refugees' remained enormous."

Darmon added that one of the most notable things in 2021 was the growing involvement of many parts of Israeli society in acts of solidarity. "There is no doubt that thanks to the multiplicity of these actions, Israeli society has succeeded in limiting the extent of the social crisis that the epidemic brought with it," said Darmon.

A third of the organizations working with LATET deliver food to those in need on a daily basis, despite a severe lack of resources. This percentage has significantly risen in recent years, as 28% did this in 2020 and 22.4% did this in 2019.

The percentage of organizations that provided services besides for food has also risen in recent years, rising from 78% in 2020 to 86.6% in 2021.

While the civil sector is increasing its efforts to help those living in poverty, 77.3% of the Israeli public believes that dealing with poverty is not at all a priority for the government or is a very low priority. Only 5.6% of the funds used by aid organizations comes from the government. 60.4% of the organizations receive help from local authorities.

Less than half of the organizations reported that they were financially stable during the coronavirus crisis, compared to 74.2% before the pandemic. The organizations were unable to provide aid on a consistent basis to an average of about 13.2% of the families which turned to them during the coronavirus crisis.

88% of the public believes that the government should be responsible for taking care of poverty.