Menu JTA Search

Rep. Badillo Urges Overhaul of Poverty Guidelines to Include Jewish Poor

Rep. Herman Badillo (D.NY) described the Jewish poor as “the forgotten poor of New York” at a City Hall news conference Friday and urged a total overhaul of the city’s poverty guidelines “to deal with the poor not so much on the basis of where they happen to be located but on the incidence and nature of poverty Itself.”

Rep. Badillo, the only Puerto Rican in the US Congress, noted that Jewish poor, particularly the elderly, “have been tragically excluded from much of the city’s anti-poverty effort because when the program began eight years ago it was targeted at 26 selected geographic areas.” Many poverty stricken Jews do not live in the officially designated poverty areas and have thus been deprived of aid to which they are entitled.

Badillo noted that 12 percent of the city’s residents are senior citizens and some 60 percent of the Jewish poor are elderly. He made his remarks at the news conference where he joined S. Elly Rosen, executive director of the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers; Deputy Bronx Borough President Louis Benza; Assemblyman Leonard Silverman and City Councilman Thomas Manton in protesting discrimination against the Jewish poor.

Badillo said the protests were a follow-up to Congressional hearings last year which revealed systematic discrimination against the Jewish poor in the structure and conduct of the City’s anti-poverty programs. Rosen, whose testimony at those hearings was responsible for focussing attention on the Jewish poor, told the news conference that despite a year of “promises and pledges,” the city has failed to improve appreciably the condition of Jewish poor.

Rosen said that “all that has been accomplished is that the excuse has been taken away, because by now most responsible government officials, private organizations and individuals admit to the existence of large numbers of silently suffering poor Jews. . . totally ignored by programs allegedly provided to help all poor people.” Rosen called this “discrimination” against 300,000 poor Jews here. He accused officials up to “those in the Mayor’s office” of “lying to and betraying even the defenseless poor.”

NEXT STORY