Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $2.6 million in funding provided by the FY 2023 Enacted Budget to support the Holocaust Survivors Initiative. This funding, to be administered by New York State Office for the Aging, will be used to increase access to health care related services, provided by community-based organizations for those who suffered in the Holocaust.
“Survivors of the Holocaust endured tragedy beyond the imaginations of the average person – we owe them a lifetime of care and with this funding we can ensure they receive just that,” Governor Hochul said. “In New York, we will never forget and we will do everything possible to honor the memory of the millions of lives lost, and ensure survivors will always be safe, protected, and supported. Today we are reaffirming our commitment to supporting survivors as is our duty, and this funding will serve to widen access to services and lift them out of poverty.”
Alleviating the Hurt Caused by Nazi Regime
New York State is home to nearly 40,000 Holocaust survivors, 40 percent of whom are living in poverty. A survivor is an individual, Jewish or non-Jewish, who experienced persecution at the hands of the Nazi regime. They were targeted due to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities, as well as political ideology. They survived concentration camps or were forced to flee their homes and countries. Sixty-one percent of Holocaust survivors emigrated from the former Soviet Union before coming to the United States; they receive little-to-no Social Security income and are extremely poor.
Today, the youngest survivors are in their mid-70s, and as they age, they require even more care. The terrible trials and traumas they suffered in their earlier years show dire effects with age. While every year the number of Holocaust survivors declines, the cost of care significantly increases.
Covid-19 on Top of Other Mental Health/Health Concerns
COVID-19 has been particularly painful for Holocaust survivors, many of whom already suffer from post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and other mental health complications. Since March 2020, survivors have turned to mental health and social service providers more than ever to support their physical, emotional, and financial needs throughout the pandemic. Providers have had to pivot to ensure continuity of service and feeling of community for survivors who must remain in their homes, including supporting those with limited access to technology.
The investments for the Holocaust Survivors Initiative support:
- Case Management to access benefits and support. Case Managers are specially trained in the psychological impact of the Holocaust;
- Mental Health Services including home visits to help survivors work through the traumas that now manifest in sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression and inability to trust;
- Trauma Informed Care provided by professionals who recognize and avoid possible triggers, thereby reducing the potential for re-traumatization
- Crisis Prevention to help stave off eviction and hunger;
- Legal Services and entitlement counseling;
- Emergency Financial Assistance for food, housing, prescriptions, medical and dental care;
- Socialization Programs to reduce isolation;
- Training & Support for Caregivers and home health aides working with survivors;
- End of Life Care including hospice and ethical wills.
Senator Simcha Felder said, “Caring for Holocaust survivors who withstood the most diabolical genocide in civilized history is the moral duty of decent people everywhere. As a representative of the largest population of Holocaust survivors in the nation, I consider it a profound honor and responsibility to ensure that those who suffered the worst atrocities live the rest of their lives with dignity and respect.”
Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein said, “Our Holocaust survivors are our greatest treasure, the crown jewels of our community. They survived the horrors of the past and went on to become outstanding and productive citizens of our society. Ithank Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Leader Stewart-Cousins for their commitment to supporting these precious survivors and ensuring their well-being.”
UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric S. Goldstein said, “UJA-Federation of New York is grateful for the unwavering efforts of Governor Hochul and the Legislature resulting in $2.6 million to support critical services for Holocaust survivors in New York. Because of their past trauma, survivors often require a special set of social, medical, and mental health services, and this funding will make a dramatic difference in helping these individuals access the care they need and age with dignity.“
Boro Park Jewish Community Council CEO Avi Greenstein said, “Holocaust Survivors are the most inspirational people in the world today. We thank Gov. Hochul for her generous support that allows Boro Park Jewish Community Council and other organizations to assist and dignify Survivors. It is our collective responsibility to give them the love and support in their older years that they were so brutally deprived of as children.“
Met Council CEO David G. Greenfield said, “New York is home to the largest Holocaust survivor community outside of Israel and on Yom HaShoah, Govnoror Hochul has stepped up for them. By investing $2.6 million to help Holocuast survivors, Governor Hochul is clearly demonstrating that she understands how much support this amazing elderly community needs and we are so grateful to that she is dedicated to not only ensuring we never forget about the crimes of the Holocaust, but that we will never, ever, forget the victims who live among us.”