Candidates in the council race.
The race to replace Michael Nelson as councilmember for the 48th District is about impossible to predict as the Powerball, but prognosticators have speculated that the issue of securing a “safety net” for the district’s poor and sick might be a major factor. An article in the Jewish Week is reporting that the safety net issue is a top priority for the Jewish community in the district.
Most of the analysis found in the Jewish Week’s report is nothing new, squaring in on the back and forth between Ari Kagan and David Storobin, the name-flap controversy between Kagan and Chaim Deutsch and the all around squabbling that has taken place between all of the candidates.
One interesting new talking point was brought forward by Josh Mehlman, the founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. Mehlman suggested that while the recent district split has empowered Russian voters over the traditionally Jewish dominated voting bloc, many Russians and Jews will be united by their community’s need for government assistance:
“The district split was an intentional misuse of power to attempt to divide our strength at the polls,” said Josh Mehlman, a founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition. The neighborhood contains many upper middle class or wealthy homes but also a large concentration of Russians and senior citizens who require assistance. Thirty-nine percent of the Jewish households in the Coney Island/Brighton Beach/Sheepshead Bay area have incomes at the federally defined poor or near-poor levels, according to the Special Report on Poverty of UJA-Federation’s 2011 Jewish Community Study; the figure for the Flatbush/Midwood/Kensington area is 30 percent.
Yet public assistance is an issue that hasn’t really come up much in the debates, and the article itself doesn’t report the candidates’ views. Where do you think they stand, and where do you want them to stand?
While Superstorm Sandy hit everyone in Southern Brooklyn hard, perhaps no one was hit harder than low-income renters in Coney Island and Brighton Beach, according to a report published by the New York Daily News.
Residents in Coney and Brighton filed more requests for federal aid after Sandy than any other neighborhood in the city. In numbers tabulated by Enterprise Community Partners, a national affordable housing organization, 14,649 people requested aid in Brighton Beach compared to 12,764 in Coney Island.
According to the report, 69 percent of the people requesting aid were earning less than $30,000, illuminating the overwhelming financial burden Sandy has imposed on those who could afford it least.
“Much of the reporting on Sandy victims has focused on homeowners. Yet, 55 percent of the surge victims in New York were very low-income renters, whose incomes are $18,000 a year on average,” said Max Weselcouch of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. “These households were vulnerable before the storm, and programs to assist them will need to take their need for affordable housing into account in order for them to fully recover from the storm’s damage.”
Jewish seniors from the former Soviet Union have a startlingly high poverty rate of 71 percent, according to the UJA-Federation’s “Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011,” and Orthodox Jews aren’t far behind, with a poverty rate of 42 percent.
The survey shows that 361,000 Jews in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, are presently experiencing a life of poverty. This represents a 15 percent increase in the amount of impoverished Jews in those areas since 2002.
The study placed the poverty line at an annual income of $27,000 for a family of three, and designated that of $45,000 as “near-poverty” for a family of the same size.
Elderly Russian immigrants and Orthodox Jews are the two groups who have been most affected, said Jack Ukeles, a member of the survey team. He also stated that younger Russians are fairing better than the elderly.
“Older Russians, who came here with little money and a lot of health problems, are not making it,” Ukeles said. “It’s too late for them.”
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Oh, yeah, 'das hot, yo. (Source: Wikipedia)
If your family is worried about your ability to pay your heating bills as temperatures drop, you may be eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), a federally-funded program that issues heating benefits to supplement a household’s annual energy cost.
HEAP offers two tiers of benefits to New York’s working families: a regular stipend for lower-income folks in need of assistance, or an emergency benefit for those stuck in specific, short-term circumstances.
Check out the types of benefits and the eligibility requirements.