May 24, 2016 (New York, NY)…Nearly 50 Holocaust Survivors joined Council Member Rafael Espinal and UJA-Federation of New York on the steps of City Hall calling for the city to renew and expand the $1.5 million in public financing allocated last fiscal year for The New York Council Survivor Initiative. With nearly 30,000 Holocaust survivors living at or near the federal poverty line in New York City, the Initiative funding helps survivors spend their remaining years in comfort and dignity and provided basic necessities such as adequate food, shelter and healthcare.

Cheryl Fishbein, Board of Directors, UJA-Federation of New York: “We are enormously grateful to Council Member Espinal for his leadership. We stand united with Selfhelp Community Services and many others in calling on the city to renew and expand the $1.5 million in public financing for the New York Council Survivor Initiative. We can’t put this off — there’s a ticking clock on caring for people who are facing old age. As a community, we made a promise to never forget. But we also made a promise to never abandon — and now we’re looking to make those words real.”

Council Member Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn): “This past year the Survivor Initiative was met with great success. The $1.5 million investment that I secured in the council for this initiative provided over 1,000 survivors with critical meal and grocery services, transportation, and access to government benefits. With 52% of Holocaust survivors living at or below the poverty line, the Survivor Initiative provides a critical service to New York’s most vulnerable residents. As a son of Dominican Immigrants, the story of how the Dominican government opened up its borders to those fleeing persecution during the Holocaust and provided them with relief, inspired me as an elected official to lead the initiative in the New York City Council. I, along with Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues, feel strongly that these residents have endured enough pain and suffering in their lifetime and we must commit to provide resources and programs that will ensure their remaining days will be lived in dignity. I consider this a first step towards ensuring survivors of genocide living in New York City are able to access the critical services they deserve.”

Councilman David G. Greenfield: “55,000 Holocaust survivors call New York their home, and we as a city have a moral duty to ensure they are able to live in dignity. That’s why it is so important that we continue to fund this critical initiative, which provides survivors with the services and support they need. No Holocaust survivor should have to live in poverty.”

Council Member Mathieu Eugene: “Our city’s Holocaust survivors are so incredibly deserving of support, and we must all raise our voices to make sure that the Holocaust Survivor Initiative is renewed and expanded so that these courageous and honorable senior citizens have access to the services they need and deserve,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “I thank UJA-Federation and Council Member Rafael Espinal for organizing this much-needed press conference, and I’m pleased to voice my support for the Holocaust Survivor Initiative.”

Councilman Chaim Deutsch: “As the son of Holocaust Survivors, this initiative is exceptionally significant to me. Thousands of elderly survivors live in New York City, and more than half live in poverty. It is our obligation to ensure that we recognize and address the needs of these vulnerable seniors. In my district last year, this initiative funded hundreds of additional caseworker hours, as well as meals, events, transportation, home visits, and legal assistance for Holocaust survivors. These services filled an important void in the lives of many of our survivors, who deserve to be able to grow older with dignity. I urge my colleagues to join me in strongly supporting this initiative, and I commend Councilman Rafael Espinal for his continued advocacy.”

Council Member Rory I. Lancman: “No Holocaust survivor should live in poverty,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “Last year, the Council provided these individuals, who lived through the horrors of Nazi Germany, with the resources they need to live comfortably. This critical funding must be renewed and expanded in this year’s budget.”

Masha Pearl, The Blue Card: “With nearly 52% of Holocaust survivors in New York living at, or below the poverty line, the need for funding is larger than ever. This is why The Blue Card is calling on the City Council to support the renewal and expansion of the Holocaust Survivor Initiative. This initiative funds survivors’ medical, mental health and long-term healthcare needs and its renewal is crucial to administer these funds. These survivors have seen the worst humanity has to offer; it’s our responsibility to show them the best of humanity by ensuring they live out their days in dignity.”

In its inaugural year 2015-2016, The New York Council Survivor Initiative helped to secure the following services:

•          Case Management Services for nearly 1,200 individuals, and funding to hire at least five new, full-time case workers.
•          Meal & Grocery Delivery Services for more than 800 clients.
•          Companionship & Peer Visits for roughly 200 clients receiving comprehensive support services while in the hospital or friendly visits at home.
•          Transportation Services for more than 600 individuals.
•          Access to more than $1 million in government benefits, including Medicare renewal, SNAP and SCRIE enrollment.

Organizations calling for renewal and expansion of the New York Council Survivor Initiative fund include: Boro Park Y, Boro Park JCC, 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 Community Services, Shorefront JCC, The Blue Card and UJA-Federation of New York.

Contact: Emily Kutner, UJA-Federation of New York 917-586-2525