Three U.S. senators introduced legislation Thursday aimed at supporting programs to assist aging Holocaust survivors.
The bipartisan measure, Responding to Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust (RUSH), was introduced by original cosponsor Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) along with Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
The RUSH Act would amend the existing Older Americans Act by adding Holocaust survivors to the list of groups that receive preference for services under that act; designating a person within the Administration for Community Living to have responsibility for implementing services to Holocaust survivors; and establishing a grant program for nonprofit organizations to increase and improve transportation services for Holocaust survivors.
The legislation would also improve the nutrition section of the Older Americans Act. Specifically, it would amend the act to provide meals that meet dietary requirements based on religious, cultural or ethnic requirements.
The Jewish Federations of North America applauded the introduction of this legislation.
“As this special community ages, we must ensure their dignity by empowering them to live as independently as possible, in peace and safety,” said Kathy Manning, JFNA board chair, said in a statement. “This important legislation would boost collective efforts to protect these courageous survivors.”
According to JFNA, more than half of the survivors who arrived in the United States after 1967 from the former Soviet Union fall below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, meaning they earn less than $21,660 annually.
Of the approximately 127,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States today, three-quarters are over the age of 75 and about two-thirds live alone.