Financial instability can be one of the worst things a person can go through in life, specifically if it persists long term. Unfortunately, there are many people worldwide who go through long periods of rough patches in life in regard to their monetary situation. While anyone living in these conditions have it bad, Israelis feel it harsher than most, specifically when measuring against their Western peers.
If you’ve ever walked down the streets of New York City or rode the subway system, chances are you have seen homeless people. They generally ask for money, not food or help with a place to stay. This is because food and housing are not as big of an issue for them. If it were only this “easy” for the people under our care.
We have countless people who walk through our doors for help. However, these people generally seek help in all aspects of their life – financial aid, housing and food. This may lead you to believe that perhaps the people under our care willingly don’t work…though this is not the case! So, why are they different from their American counterparts?
Being Homeless a Decade Ago
Though many homeless people in America find homes in shelters, often times you will find that some have homes. Others have plenty of food (of their own). Sadly, this is not the case right here in Israel. It used to be that even Israeli homeless people had homes. No matter how difficult their financial situation got, not having a home wasn’t even a question. Just about everyone had a home. The same could be said about food. Decades ago, the “homeless” weren’t homeless as we currently define it. They had a home. They had food. They had water. Everything else was a struggle. What changed, you might ask?
As you are well aware, and something that is frequently discussed in the media, Israeli real estate and food prices have gone up dramatically. Just last fiscal year alone (2014), housing prices rose by about 8.5%. To add insult to injury to the homeless, food prices are significantly higher than in Europe. As sad as this is, this is nothing new. In fact, this has been ongoing since the end of 2007 – seven plus years now. And, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, rent prices have also increased by 50% since 2007. Keep in mind that the minimum wage in Israel in 2014 was just NIS 4,300 ($1,126 USD) per month while the average monthly rent in 2014 was NIS 3,749 ($969 USD).
The picture is crystal clear. It is a dire new reality for the hungry in Israel. As long as no bubble bursts, the people under our care will increasingly rely on us for assistance. We kindly ask you to consider donating to us today. Thank you from the entire Yad Ezra V’Shulamit Staff.