NYC Council Jewish Caucus, Coalition of Council Members and Community Advocates Call on City to Support Holocaust Survivors

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Seventy Years Later, 30,000 NYC Holocaust Survivors Live in Poverty



CONTACT: Tyrone Stevens 917-842-5748 / [email protected]

NEW YORK -- Chair of the City Council Jewish Caucus Mark Levine announced today that the the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus, along with a bloc of city elected officials, the Survivor Initiative and advocacy organizations held a rally in support of the New York City Council Survival Initiative on the steps of City Hall. The coalition of elected officials and advocates called for $1.5 million of public investment to help all Holocaust survivors living in poverty.

Seventy years after the United States put an end to World War II and revealed the horrors of the Holocaust, 30,000 survivors are living near, at or below the federal poverty line in New York City. Founded in 2012, the Survivor Initiative is a volunteer-led national effort that reaches across generations to raise awareness and funds for Holocaust survivors living in poverty. In conjunction with its partners, the Survivor Initiative has catalyzed millions of private dollars raised for survivors and is calling on the City to do their share.

"On Yom Hashoah we recall the atrocities of the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews who perished. We can’t undo this horrific history, but we can and must at least provide a measure of support and dignity to the many thousands of brave survivors who still live amongst us. We are calling on the CIty to fund an initiative that will help ensure that no Holocaust Survivor in New York City lives out their final days in poverty,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the City Council Jewish Caucus.

"It's shocking to know that the very same humans who have already suffered the most are still suffering as they conclude their natural lives. The least we can do is provide them with some dignity and respect in their final days. That is why I am proud to support the Survivor Initiative. As a city, we can and must do better for this most vulnerable of the poor population," said Council Member David Greenfield.

"It is absolutely essential that no Holocaust survivor live in poverty. Our survivors must be protected and have access to full city services. This is essential to our integrity as a city, and I look forward to working with fellow officials and the Jewish Caucus to ensure it is a reality," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair of the Jewish Caucus.

"It's unconscionable that Holocaust survivors in our city are living in poverty," said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. "We must provide these men and women, who lived through the horrors of Nazi Germany, with the resources they need to live comfortably. I join my colleagues in the Jewish Caucus today as we call for the City to fund the Survival Initiative."

“It is our moral duty to support New York City’s Holocaust survivors, especially the nearly 30,000 who are living in poverty,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin.

“Nearly half of the 64,000 Holocaust survivors living in New York City are trying to make ends meet well below the poverty line. These New Yorkers are among our most vulnerable; not only having been forced to endure such dire atrocities at extremely young ages, they are now senior citizens at an average of 83 years old. I believe it is our role in government to ensure that those who need resources the most have a fighting chance at obtaining them. The Survivor Initiative – which provides critical services to Holocaust survivors such as case management, health support, home care and cash assistance – will help us execute our responsibilities to these people at their time of need.” said Council Member Corey Johnson.

“We must be there to support the thousands of Holocaust survivors who live in New York City. I’m proud to support the Survivor Initiative with my colleagues and to put forward the needed resources for Holocaust survivors, said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, it is heartbreaking to know that so many who lived through this atrocity now face poverty and economic hardship here in our city. The Survivor Initiative has been at the forefront of this issue since its founding and does incredible work  on behalf of those who have already endured so much and just need a little support to have a good quality of life during their senior years. It is now time for us to do our part as a city and provide the Survivor Initiative with the resources it needs to continue its vital work, said Council Member Mark Treyger.

“As the son of Holocaust survivors, the work of the Survivor Initiative is of particular significance to me. Poverty, sadly, is rampant throughout our City, and it is important to take care of our elderly and those in need. The 30,000 Holocaust survivors that are currently suffering, struggling for food, basic medical care, and shelter, should be one of our highest priorities. I strongly support the Survivor Initiative’s call for more resources to fight these cases of severe poverty, and I commend all the organizations involved for the work they do to care for our most vulnerable and these 30,000 survivors in particular,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch.

"Survivors of the Holocaust endured one of the most horrific periods in human history and their strength must never be forgotten. Sadly, thousands of Holocaust survivors are now struggling with the destructive effects of poverty, and we have a responsibility to act. With an investment of $1.5 million – a drop in the bucket of the City’s $75 billion budget – we can ensure that Holocaust survivors in our City spend their twilight years with dignity,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

"With over 60,000 Shoah survivors living in the New York City area, we’re able to learn first-hand through survivors about the consequence of injustice, the pain they endured, and their incredible strength to survive," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Here in New York, we must be unwavering in our support for the survivors living in our community and the New York City Council Survivor Initiative is integral to providing these essential services." said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

"Holocaust survivors have had so much taken from them, and have gone through such horrors, that it is unconscionable that we allow so many of them to go hungry today," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "Almost half of the survivors in the New York metro area live on less than $11,000 a year. They deserve better, and I will continue to support all efforts to aid this vulnerable population."

“Holocaust survivors are among the lowest income New Yorkers and often struggle with social isolation. The city Council Survivor Initiative is our opportunity to ensure that survivors have access to programs and services that address critical needs while also connecting them to community.  I commend Councilmember Levine for his leadership in advocating on behalf of Holocaust survivors and join him in championing this worthy cause. “ said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.

“Thank you to Council Members Mark Levine, Rafael Espinal, David Greenfield and members of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus for being the voice for the City’s voiceless 30,000 Holocaust survivors living in poverty. In our fight against poverty, we must remember New York’s citizens who survived some of humanity’s darkest hours. The Survivor Initiative has volunteered our skills, and invested our time, to catalyze millions of independent dollars raised—and we hope the City will join us in caring for some of the City’s oldest and most vulnerable residents who should never be forgotten,” said Meredith Rose Burak, Chair of Public Partnerships for the Survivor Initiative.

“UJA-Federation of New York is thankful for the widespread support of the New York City Council on this important initiative. Holocaust survivors deserve to live out their days with dignity and respect and it is incumbent on New York City to contribute to their care and well-being. We urge the passage and inclusion of this worthy initiative in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget,” said Karen Spar Kasner, UJA-Federation of New York, Chair, NY Government Relations and Public Policy Committees.

“Met Council is proud to stand with the Survivor Initiative, UJA-Federation, the Jewish Caucus, Council Members Levine, Greenfield, and Espinal, and the entire City Council in honoring Holocaust survivors,” said Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty CEO and Executive Director, David M. Frankel. “Having provided comprehensive social services to more than 2,000 Holocaust survivors last year alone, Met Council and our dedicated Holocaust social services staff recognize that those who endured the Holocaust still need our help.  We thank the City Council for supporting our programs, which aid, sustain, and empower Holocaust survivors and other New Yorkers in need.”

"It is a critical imperative to address the needs of those Holocaust survivors who are living in poverty. On Yom HaShoah, when we remember those who perished during the Holocaust, we should also pledge to support those who survived and enable them to live their last years at home, with dignity, comfort, security and an improved quality of life," said Elihu Kover, Vice President of Nazi Victim Services, Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.

"Holocaust survivors have shown incredible resilience in their ability to remain psychologically intact and to create lives worth living for themselves and their children after suffering the most unimaginable of traumas.  However, now significant numbers of frail, elderly New York City residents that survived the Holocaust and their families have needs for continued support on many levels.  This support includes promoting easy access to affordable mental health services for survivors and their children, including mental health services being made available to homebound individuals.  It also needs to include increased opportunities for social interaction and relationship building, as well as case management and financial relief.  The generation of those directly affected by the Holocaust and their children are an example of the best of humanity.  It is vital in New York City that they get the support they need and so richly deserve," said Jeri Mendelsohn, Samuel Field Y, Executive Vice-President & CEO.

Guardians of the Sick stated: "The 100 elderly Holocaust survivors in the Greater New York Area, and members of the KINDERTRANSPORT ASSOCIATION (whose lives were saved by a British initiative in 1939) wish to add their voices to the plea for critically needed resources for their brothers and sisters in New York City."

In addition to the Survivor Initiative and supporters in the City Council, other organizations calling for the New York Council Survivor Initiative include:Bikur Cholim, Boro Park Y, Canarsie JCC, JCC of Greater Coney Island, JCC of Washington Heights and Inwood, Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, Met Council, Pesach Tikvah, Queens JCC, Sam Field Y, Selfhelp, Shorefront JCC, The Blue Card, UJA-Federation of New York, and the United Jewish Organization.


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