WASHINGTON (Mar. 23)
An 83-year-old Holocaust survivor has won a battle with the U.S. government over whether her reparation payments from the German government should count as income.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development decided last week that reparation payments should not be considered part of a survivor’s income.
The decision, which brings HUD’s policy into line with that of other government agencies, means that Fanny Schlomowitz of Phoenix, Ariz., will again qualify for low-income rent.
Schlomowitz’s rent in her federally subsidized, low-income senior citizens housing unit skyrocketed from $63 to $227 a month last year after the complex’s manager told her that HUD considered the reparation money part of her income.
“This was very unfair,” Schlomowitz said on Friday, explaining that her money situation was very tight because of high medical bills. “I couldn’t afford anything.”
Residents of her housing complex generally pay 30 percent of their income in rent. Schlomowitz receives a $377 monthly Social Security payment and about $500 a month from the German government.
She said that she certainly did not consider the reparation money to be income. “I didn’t work for it. I didn’t earn it. I just suffered for it,” she said.
The reparation money is compensation for injuries Schlomowitz suffered in Budapest during the war when Nazis beat her, hit her over the head with a rifle and kicked out some of her teeth. She was pregnant at the time.
Since then, she has had dizzy spells and headaches.
Last month, Schlomowitz sought the help of Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.).
The senator sent a letter to HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, stating that HUD’s interpretation of laws concerning reparation payments “is grossly unfair to those who suffered through the most appalling event in modern history.”
DeConcini also wrote to President Clinton.
On March 18, HUD announced it was changing its policy.