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February 14, 2011

Another Jewish Community Failure

Electric Power Chair You're in your late 50s. You become disabled and can no loger work. Because of this, you will need housing assistance. What does the Jewish community do to help you?

This post is part of an ongoing series on Jewish homelessness.

The short answer?

Nothing.

I have a friend in New York who is facing this exact situation. He called the Metropolitain Council on Jewish Poverty, the Federation's anti-poverty agency, to see what housing might be available.

The answer?

Nothing.

I didn't believe him. So I called the Met Council and got the same answer. Nothing.

The reason the met Council has no housing is that the Met Council primarily acts as a clearinghouse for government funds. It builds no buildings and launches no programs to speak of that are not heavily attached to government funding.

As I've noted in previous posts on Jewish homelessness, the Jewish community largely ignores the problem, because the federal government shamefully ignores the problem.

Now we know that failure to serve the most vulnerable among us includes people who, for no fault of their own, can't work due to physical disability.

For shame.

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I think there is a disparity from federation to federation. I grew up in Detroit, where the local federation, one of the most powerful in the country outside New York and LA, built low income senior housing, which is also available to disabled people. The rent on those apartments is based on a sliding scale. My recollection is that the Chicago federation has or had similar programs. While perhaps in New York, and New Jersey there is little available for these people, I'm not convinced that alone serves a basis to indict the entire American Jewish community.

William Rapfogle iS HEAD of the METROPOLITAN jEWISH COUNCIL. Hes salary is in the six fiqure range.

[You're in your late 50s. You become disabled and can no loger work. Because of this, you will need housing assistance. What does the Jewish community do to help you?]

Are there any other places one can turn to or are they all religion based? i.e. if the person happens to be a Christian where would he turn too? What if they happen to be a Muslim where would he turn to?

I feel that if someone needs help one should not look at his religion, one should look to their government since they are forever attached to our wallets and always stretches out their hand for a handout and a piece of the action whenever you make a profit, it behooves them to stop hiding when it is you that now needs help.

Posted by: tzvi | February 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM

You'll recall that in the early 1990s, after years of trying, conservatives – primarily Republicans – reduced benefits needy people get.

Section 8 housing is almost never available. Cash benefits are minuscule.

What is the point of having a Jewish community if it is not going to function as a community?

Certainly halakha mandates helping people of need it, and it shocks me that you would think to dump this responsibility on the government, and in effect stand idly by as the government fails to help.

Shmarya, you say it shocks you ... Really? Still? After all these years and all that you know today? It shocks me that is shocks you. Me, I am totally numb.

[Certainly halakha mandates helping people of need it,]

I have no problems with getting help from the Jewish Community, It just bothers me that the government is getting a pass on this.

I can see apathy towards lazy bums, but someone becoming disabled, where is the compassion of society at large? Banks we bail out, but not the disabled. Bummer!

HOW CAN THIS BE.

"Rabbi" Rabbi Shloime Ezagui of North Palm Beach was given millions to erect a palatial 11,000 sq. foot building in order to reach out and help all Jews in need, if I understood the other article correctly.

What the fuck did he to with the remainder of tzadakahed millions of dollars in cash once his castle was built and before he screamed 'guilt and bankruptcy'.

Jewish organizations who are handed over millions of Tzdakah dollars by concerned Jews are told their donations and
"neshumas will be elevated to a higher spiritual level" when "we" donate to them and once the check finally clears.

They assure us that the monies collected will go directly to our fellow Jewish brothers, sisters and children who are in need and go without.

Where are the unaccounted for millions?

Where are the unaccounted for millions, artwork and real estate stolen during the Holocaust.

The Jewish organizations, pre WWll insurance companies and Swiss Banks have no answers when it comes to pertains to the whereabouts of other peoples money.

This is how it can be...

The Baal Shem Tov the founder of Chassidism was orphaned from his father at the age of five. The last words spoken to him by his father before his passing were: "Yisrolik, fear nothing but G‑d alone. Love every single Jew, without exception, with the full depth of your heart and with the fire of your soul, no matter who he is or how he behaves."

Since the Chabad story mentioned above makes no mention of money, housing, wheelchairs, operations etc. destitute Jews in need must fend for themselves or die.

Just lots of "love."

Shymyra-I disagree with you on this one.

There are government programs which provide a safety net. If Federations or other Jewish organizations were to use resources to help individual people down on their luck in any significant way the expense would be enormous. Our local federations makes modest interest free loans.. But assume it were to help out families in trouble by giving them $2k a moth for a year. If they helped 40 families that would be $1m or 10% of the budget and really 20% of the budget which stay here. Its simply unrealistic to assume that Jewish charities can handle the load you suggest. These community funds should be used for things like our J's camps, Jewish programs and the like. We can provide counsleing and ideas families in trouble but there just isn't the resouces to give actual large amounts of cash.

One more point. my brother in law once bitched that he Miami Federation wanted $250. to evaluate his mother to see what aid she qualify for. He was outraged. When I asked him (he lives in St. Louis) how much he gave to that Federation he said "nothing." When I asked how much he gave here it was the same answer. Yes there are some modest things our communities can do for people in trouble but the level of help you are suggesting just doesn't compute.

Shmarya is right; it's an appalling situation. Many gentiles still harbor the notion that Jews take care of one another; perhaps it was that way, once, but it hasn't been that way in my lifetime.

Our Jewish philanthropies here in Boston are a disgrace. Although Boston has a relatively small Jewish community, it's a disproportionately affluent one, and it gives these organizations many millions of dollars each year. I don't know what they have to show for it; people in need walk away empty-handed all the time. They're also very poorly administered. They pay their top officers six-figure salaries, but when it comes time to hire the people in the trenches, the ones who are supposed to be doing the real work - they scrape the bottom of the barrel.

I've been under the impression that it isn't quite so bad in other cities. I think Shmarya's correct; I think New York is no picnic (which is inexcusable, given the size and affluence of its Jewish population). Perhaps Detroit and Chicago are better; I don't know.

Shmarya, I've given up on the Jewish people; I really have.

The truth is that you can't expect the federation to help with housing - that is what the government does ie. HUD and low income housing. Maybe the federations can help direct people there or help with emergency housing for a short period though.

Having said that, how do those m-f bastards in the federation justify making $500,000 a year ?

William Rapfogel is probably one of the 36 most righteous people in the world and does amazing things when he can through Met Council. And anyone who knows him knows that he is 100% leshma. I personally donate to him whenever I can because I know how committed he is. It is very easy to criticize when one knows little about the facts. Instead of criticizing, try contributing!

William Rapfogel is probably one of the 36 most righteous people in the world and does amazing things when he can through Met Council. And anyone who knows him knows that he is 100% leshma. I personally donate to him whenever I can because I know how committed he is. It is very easy to criticize when one knows little about the facts. Instead of criticizing, try contributing!

Met Council provides multiple layers of services for people in need. While we would like to be able to build housing for every needy population that exists in the Jewish community, that is just not reasonable or realistic. We help thousands of families with funds for emergency rental assistance (clients have to demonstrate need with documentation not anonymous phone calls). We supplement that with monthly food packages, vouchers and job training and career counseling.
Our nearly 2,000 apartments provide much needed affordable housing to nearly 3,000 elderly individuals and couples. Sadly, 5,000 applications come in for every 100 apartments we build. That unmet need requires all of us to redouble our advocacy and fund raising efforts not to point misguided fingers and say "for shame."
We welcome everyone (even bloggers) to learn the facts, visit the programs and services, understand the financing complexities and grasp the outcomes and performance measurements that are real and substantiated. Please don't make silly assertions based on hearsay or even one isolated case.

Mr. Rapfogel, I'm curious about something. Whenever low-income housing is dedicated for the elderly, it's nearly always understood that it's for the elderly and disabled. Your properties are the only examples of their kind I've come across that provide housing only for the elderly. I'm wondering why that is.

We welcome everyone (even bloggers) to learn the facts, visit the programs and services, understand the financing complexities and grasp the outcomes and performance measurements that are real and substantiated. Please don't make silly assertions based on hearsay or even one isolated case.

Posted by: William Rapfogel | February 14, 2011 at 06:31 PM

I find this part of your response odd, especially because of what you wrote immediately before it. You essentially admit you do not help disabled people under the age of 62 with housing needs:Met Council provides multiple layers of services for people in need. While we would like to be able to build housing for every needy population that exists in the Jewish community, that is just not reasonable or realistic. We help thousands of families with funds for emergency rental assistance (clients have to demonstrate need with documentation not anonymous phone calls). We supplement that with monthly food packages, vouchers and job training and career counseling.
Our nearly 2,000 apartments provide much needed affordable housing to nearly 3,000 elderly individuals and couples. Sadly, 5,000 applications come in for every 100 apartments we build. That unmet need requires all of us to redouble our advocacy and fund raising efforts not to point misguided fingers and say "for shame."Further, you say you have job training, but as far as I've seen, that training is very limited and would apply to only a tiny segment of those who would need retraining.

Perhaps you can give us a complete list of the job training services you provide.

As for the number of apartments you have, it is quite small for a city like New York.

The Twin Cities have about 30,000 Jews (if you count those who live in California and Florida half of the year). New York City alone has what, about 1,000,000 Jews?

That means the Twin Cities should have, what, 55 or 60 apartments? But it has 200.

In other words, the tiny Minnesota community appears to be doing about four times more than you in this regard, and it does have some under 62 disabled in those apartments.

I don't think your response here (or on the ground) adequately addresses the problem.

None of this should take away from the good your organization does do.

In California the Chabad Telethon raises money to shelter and feed the homeless. They have a large crisis center that helps everyone, not only Jews. They do not turn anybody away that needs help

A friend of mine who is in his 40's had a massive heart attack (he's thin and healthy) and although he survived, he had congitive damage (from lack of oxygen to the brain) and it took months for him to recover, even while he is not fully recovered and never will be.

We called the Met Council after he depleted his savings for rent and other expenses, but the most they said they could do was provide a loan but only if it was secured by another party. He has no way to repay a loan while he is disabled and doesn't know if he will ever be able to be employable again! How could he ask anyone to sign as a guarantor for a loan for him? That was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard!! If I could afford to gift him a few thousand, I would do so myself! If we don't have it, I and his other family and friends certainly cannot sign a guarantee that we will pay it when he can't, and there is no way in sight for him to be able to pay it!

Anyway, we got him food stamps, he got disability, and he still can't make it (and he doesn't live large at all!). There is no one to help out except for friends and family who care enough. But there is just so much we can do...

To make matters worse, he can't even afford the Cobra payments for his health insurance. After all those years when he was healthy paying into the health insurance system, his health insurance doesn't cover him when he's too sick to pay for it!! He's going to have to go on Medicaid, but in the meantime, it's all falling apart.

And the Jewish "community" couldn't care less.

Oh, but there will be a Gala Affair next week honoring _________ (fill in the blank).

What a sickening system. Pun intended.

Abracadabra is right. Apologists for the system will say, "Well, there are always a few people who fall through the cracks... ", but it seems that it isn't just a few people, that wherever you look - there they are.

Jewish philanthropies are like any bureaucracy. They're self-perpetuating money-garnering machines that provide comfortable livings for their top officers and administrators, but they often fail to service those who are supposed to (or should) fall within their purview.

The amount of money available from the Jewish Federation, the Met Council, the NY Times Neediest, or any other charity depends upon donations.

If the Met Council is rated 3 or 4-star, as most Jewish Federations are, it's doing a good job in allocating donations without incurring high overhead expenses. As I mentioned in another thread, Rapfogel's salary is in line with that of large charities of this type, or maybe a little less. You're not going to get a good manager for $50K, or even $100K. Not one who has to run an organization of this size.

I would like to find out how the Met Council stands relative to other charities of its type.

And yes, there will be those who fall through the cracks in any organization. And those will be the ones you hear about.

Just the usual - snouts in troughs.

It's all just a money making scam.

There are very few true Jewish charities.

Another case in point -> AMF in OZ - just goes after government subsidies.

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