Holocaust survivors living in the United States would receive federal funds designed to help them age at home, rather than having to move to an institution, according to a new bill drafted by the Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her Republican counterpart Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The bipartisan proposal calls for survivors to be added to a list of elderly citizens receiving preferred treatment and to create a grant program helping them with their transportation needs, the ‘Jerusalem Post’ reports.
“As a nation that upholds the values of freedom, liberty and justice, we have a moral obligation to acknowledge the plight and uphold the dignity of Holocaust survivors to ensure their well-being,” Wasserman Schultz was quoted as saying. “Our children’s generation will be the last to know Holocaust survivors and hear their stories firsthand. We must do all we can to honor their struggles and their lives by improving their access to transportation to get them where they need to go, and improve their home-care options so that they can have peace of mind. This bill does just that, and it’s time to make it happen.”
Ros-Lehtinen said survivors of Nazi persecution deserved to be honored in their old age. “The sad reality is that every day, we have fewer Holocaust survivors among us to tell their tragic tales that remind us of the reality of evil,” she said in an email quoted by the Israeli newspaper. “Many of these survivors have pressing medical and housing needs and this bill seeks to address those gaping holes in social services,” she added.
An estimated 127,000 Holocaust survivors live in the United States today. About three quarters of them are over the age of 75, and about two-thirds live alone. Many of the survivors struggle to make ends meet and are in poor health.