TA city hall builds shelters for homeless Africans

Two large tent-like structures will be set up every night throughout the winter as part of a pilot project in Lewinsky Park.

Shelters in Lewinsky Park 390 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
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 shelters.
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 clothes.
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 users.
The city estimates there are around 700 homeless people in the city currently receiving assistance from the municipality.