(JTA) — One-third of Holocaust survivors in the United States continue to live at or below the poverty line, according to an aid organization.
The Blue Card, which provides financial assistance to survivors, reported the statistic ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday. Last year, the same proportion of survivors were at or below the poverty line, according to CNN.
The 2018 report also said that 61 percent of the 100,000 survivors in the United States live on less than $23,000 a year, or double the poverty line. The median income for individuals in the U.S. was about $31,000 in 2016.
Blue Card said it sees requests for aid grow 20 percent annually. Three quarters of the approximately 3,000 survivors the group aids are older than 75, and saw a 10 percent increase this year in aid requests for survivors battling cancer.
“For those senior citizens that survived the atrocities of the Holocaust, many are struggling to make ends meet in the face of a growing number of medical issues, the rising cost of living and challenges navigating the health system,” said Blue Card Executive Director Masha Pearl. “The time to help is now.”
Separately, the Jewish Federations of North America announced $2.8 million in grants to 30 organizations that provide “person-centered, trauma-informed” supportive services to Holocaust survivors in the United States.
JFNA, through its Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, will distribute $2.2 million to 21 organizations for new projects and an additional $662,500 to last year’s awardees to sustain ongoing programs. Combined with matching funds required by the grant, the funding for Holocaust survivor services will total $4 million.
JFNA launched the Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care in 2015, following an award from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living for up to $12 million over five years.
“It is critical that we deliver these lifesaving and life-enhancing services to Holocaust survivors. The past two years of this federal grant program have shown the deep impact that person-centered, trauma-informed services can have on Holocaust survivors. We are grateful to partner with the government to augment this work,” said Mark Wilf, chair of JFNA’s National Holocaust Survivor Initiative.