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NY Holocaust survivors to reclaim state funds
By MICHAEL WILNER AND DANIELLE ZIRI
04/09/2013
Survivors may have access to money held by local government after comptroller, NGO release report of unclaimed funds.
 
NEW YORK – Holocaust survivors in New York or the heirs of those who lost property during the Holocaust may soon have access to money being held by the local government, state officials said on Monday.

The comptroller of the State of New York partnered its office of unclaimed funds with Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce) in August of last year, and released a progress report this week to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“Our database is public, and we turned over to HEART over 28 million records to comb through,” said spokesman Nikki Jones. “We’ve made a special case just for this project.”

The initiative was originally requested by HEART, a nonprofit initiative of the Jewish Agency aimed at providing compensation for property that was confiscated, looted or forcibly sold during the Holocaust.

Individuals who lost property during the Holocaust or their heirs are asked to fill out the Project HEART questionnaire, available on its website, in order to verify eligibility and receive assistance from the organization.

Over 4,000 potential claimants have been identified thus far, Jones explained, emphasizing that they have yet to be verified and that the organization has “to see if in fact they are actual claimants.”

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reflected on the holiday in his statement, speaking of the perseverance of Holocaust survivors living in New York.

“We can never replace those individuals taken during that terrible time, but we can help survivors and heirs claim what is rightfully theirs,” DiNapoli said.

“My office is partnering with Project HEART to reunite individuals with unclaimed funds that were lost in New York State. We have identified thousands of possible matches and are working diligently to return this money.”

New York law stipulates that unclaimed funds be transferred to the comptroller’s office, which keeps all such records public. HEART was responsible for cross-referencing the names of Holocaust survivors with the New York database.
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