Due to the ongoing severe financial crisis in Greece, the real estate market has plunged in value. This has significantly reduced communal sources of income, without which the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (“KISE”), the umbrella organization of Greek Jewry, cannot support its institutions and members’ needs. In addition, a growing segment of the younger generation is unemployed, and the elderly have seen their pensions dramatically reduced during the past year. As a result, the number of needy applicants for social services provided by KISE considerably increased.
In this dire social and economic situation, Holocaust victims have particular difficulties, as many of them have ended up abandoned or without the financial support of their families and find themselves forced to live alone even when unable to fully care for themselves. Each retired person now receives on average about €400 a month from the state; and with recently enacted new taxes due to the crisis, seniors receive even less than that amount. This reduced pension is expected to cover all expenses, though it is substantially less than what is actually needed.
In the latest blow to Greek citizens, 2012 saw a significant increase in the cost of heating and utilities. As a result, Nazi victims were often unable to afford proper heating and had to rely upon electrical heating devices that are unsafe and insufficient for winter.
In addition, the National Health Care System has deteriorated to the point where seniors face serious difficulties receiving proper medical care and cannot purchase their most basic medications.
KISE represents the eight main areas in which the Jewish community resides (Athens, Corfu, Halkis, Ioannina, Larissa, Thessaloniki, Trikala, and Volos) and with Claims Conference funding provides homecare, transportation, medical equipment, and emergency financial assistance. In light of the deepening fiscal and social crisis, in 2012, the Claims Conference nearly tripled its level of funding for KISE, with most of the funding earmarked toward increased homecare services for vulnerable Nazi victims living in Greece.