Ajcongress Calls for Major Revisions of Anti-poverty Act to End Exclusion of Jewish Poor from Progra

A call for 18 major changes in the Economic Opportunity Act and in the city’s antipoverty program, so as no longer to “exclude” Jewish poor, was issued today by Richard Ravitch, chairman of the American Jewish Congress’ Commission on Urban Affairs. “Most Jewish poor are older persons, and few of them live in poverty areas.” Ravitch said. “As a result, needy Jews do not qualify for benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled,” he stated. “This situation is inherently unjust. It must not continue.”

Ravitch, who made public a 45-page analysis of the problem, said.” Poverty must be treated on the basis of need, not residence.” He pointed out that the designation of poverty areas by local administrators on the bases of number of welfare recipients, rate of Juvenile delinquency, incidence of venereal disease, and births in city hospitals were not applicable to the mostly-older Jewish poor.

The current funding program is thus “a cruel hoax” on the “frequently forgotten” Jewish poor. In addition to “far greater funds to fight poverty.” Ravitch said, there is a need for “whatever resources are available…to meet the needs of all the poor on an equal basis.” Of the quarter-million Jews earning under $3,000 a year, Ravitch noted, only one-third live in official poverty areas.

JEWISH ANTIPOVERTY GROUP URGED

The AJCongress proposals include a call for a citywide Jewish antipoverty organization to be created by the city’s Jewish community “to educate poor Jews on their rights and opportunities under existing programs and organize them to press for programs they need.”

Ravitch, a lawyer who is president of the HRH Construction Co. here, emphasized that this problem was not being publicized to add the competition for limited antipoverty funds, but rather to help initiate cooperation between various ethnic and racial groups in order to stimulate greater pressure to have more money allocated to meet the needs of all groups.

He said such broad-based pressure will not be forthcoming until the various ethnic and racial groups are assured that their poor will all share the poverty funds equitably. Ravitch said the AJCongress has already begun making contacts with other ethnic and racial groups to make the antipoverty fight a cooperative venture.

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