Claims Conference secures major increase in aid to Holocaust survivors through 2018

(JTA) – The Claims Conference, which manages aid to Holocaust survivors, has negotiated a budget increase through 2018, including the largest one-time increase in home care funding the organization has ever secured.

In talks with the German government, the Claims Conference secured nearly $312 million in homecare funding for survivors in 2016, approximately $350 million for 2017 and more than $380 million for 2018, according to a Tuesday press release. The additional funding for home care totals some $500 million from the German government.

The most significant part of the agreement, according to Claims Conference Executive Vice-President Greg Schneider, is that it removes the cap on the number of home care hours many survivors can receive. Previously, survivors were entitled to a maximum of 25 hours per week of home care. Now, survivors of ghettos and concentration camps may receive unlimited home care. Other survivors may receive a maximum of 40 hours per week.

“Home care is a key component of providing a dignified life to Holocaust survivors,” Schneider told JTA. “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 home care aid to 67,000.

Negotiations for Tuesday’s increase began in December, when the Claims Conference set up a direct negotiation working group with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

The agreement is subject to approval by the German Parliament.

“We have been fighting for the rights of survivors for 65 years and this new agreement will have a huge impact on the most vulnerable, poor and disabled of survivors,” said Claims Conference President Julius Berman in a statement.

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