Northeastern Romania: Former villa of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu turned into shelter for elderly and homeless
Derelict for years, the Botoșani villa of former communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu is now a shelter for the elderly and homeless after a local journalist set out to help the vulnerable.
“I was handing out hot meals to homeless people on the street. Every winter, I would see people freeze to death from the cold or from diseases that got worse on the street,” Ionela Ivan, the local journalist who decided to help those in need, told HotNews. “The idea of somehow setting up a shelter came as a necessity, an emergency, a vital solution for those forced to live on the street,” she added.
Ionela eventually found a villa located in a village around 50 km from Botoșani that former communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu had used. The villa had been derelict for years, but Ionela and her husband began to pay for it through donations.
Over time, with help from the Salveaza o Inima (Save a Heart) Association and others, they managed to renovate it fully. The three-story building is now worth approximately EUR 120,000 and can house 50 people.
The first homeless people arrived at Casa Nicolae in December of 2021. 25 of them live there right now, but people come and go every month. Most have some health issues, while others are gravely ill.
“We have to call for an ambulance once every few days for the ones we cannot transport to the hospital ourselves,” said Cristian Ivan, Ionela’s husband.
The house has a nurse and a social worker who give the inhabitants of Casa Nicolae basic medical care, meals, and encouragement. A recovery center and a clinic from Botoșani also offered to provide the residents with kinesiotherapy sessions and bloodwork free of charge.
Some of the older residents help newcomers. Costică, who was evicted from his apartment after failing to make payments for it, was homeless for 12 years. Now, he feeds and washes those who are unable to do it themselves.
Feeding one of its 25 current residents for a month costs Casa Nicolae at least RON 400 (EUR 82). The damaged roof also requires fixing. Those who wish to help can donate and provide a meal for those in need.
(Photo source: video capture "Save a Heart" Association)