Area Holocaust survivors last week learned details about a negotiated budget increase with the German government that includes the largest one-time increase in homecare funding.
Deb Kram, of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, which manages aid to survivors, said she had come to Kol Shalom in Rockville, “to explain what is going on with [our] activity.”
In talks with the German government, the agreement provides for approximately $500 million in additional funding over previous levels for the coming two years, including an increase of $111 million for 2017 and a total of nearly $388 million for 2018.
Ellen Blalock, of the Jewish Social Service Agency, which provides services for survivors, said more people are becoming entitled for assistance since the Claims Conference has expanded eligibility.
The most significant part of the agreement, according to Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider, who did not attend the Rockville gathering, is that it removes the cap on the number of homecare hours many survivors can receive. In the past, survivors were entitled to a maximum of 25 hours per week of homecare. Now, survivors from ghettos and concentration camps may receive unlimited homecare. Other survivors may receive a maximum of 40 hours per week.
“We’ve had this 25-hour cap on how many hours of care somebody could get with this German government money. If somebody can’t dress themselves, bathe themselves, feed themselves, it’s inadequate. And now we’ve been able to raise the cap to 40 hours,” Kram explained to some 250 survivors.
“Homecare is a key component of providing a dignified life to Holocaust survivors,” Schneider said. “By waiving a cap for people who were in camps and ghettos, the German government has shown that they understand that and are willing to address the need.”
The Claims Conference also disburses funding from the Austrian government, as well as proceeds from recovered Jewish property, a private grant, and funds from a settlement with the Swiss Banks. In total — including social services and direct payments to survivors — the Claims Conference will distribute some $835 million this year. The group provides aid to 121,000 survivors, including homecare aid to 67,000.
The agreement is subject to approval by the German Parliament.
JTA News and Features contributed to this article