Video: Special Briefing on Project 900

In this session, Na’ama Lerner, Director of Community Outreach Department at Bizchut, The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, and Prof. Arie Rimmerman, Professor Social Welfare & Health Sciences, University of Haifa, provided a briefing on this important initiative to move 900 people with intellectual disabilities out of institutions and into community-based housing. Na’ama and Arie was joined by Shira Ruderman, Israel Director of The Ruderman Family Foundation, who will discuss the Foundation’s involvement in this initiative.

Despite progressive policy in many areas relating to disability, Israel has been slow to begin the transition from institutions to inclusive settings. More than 8,000 people with intellectual disabilities currently live in institutions and large hostels, with only 1,500 in community-based settings. Following years of ongoing advocacy and public pressure to change this, the Ministry of Social Affairs launched a new government program to move 900 people with intellectual disabilities from institutions into community-based facilities, in line with the report and recommendations of the International Committee of Experts on Integrated Community Living convened by Yitzhak Herzog when he was Minister of Social Affairs.

A specially appointed national committee, of which Bizchut is a member, has been given responsibility for planning and overseeing this process. While many stakeholders hope this initiative will herald the beginning of de-institutionalization in Israel, there are many obstacles and challenges that will need to be overcome along the way.