Met Council is one of New York’s top human service agencies helping tens of thousands of New Yorkers fight poverty each year.
Our services include crisis intervention, legal and immigration assistance, benefits outreach
and enrollment, kosher food pantries and vouchers, career training and assistance, domestic
violence counseling, affordable housing, home care, and home repairs.
In 1972, two major academic studies on the growing number of impoverished Jews in New York City were released. They estimated that the number stood at approximately 300,000 people.
These statistics prompted the formation of the Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty, with support from the American Jewish Congress and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York. With funding from the Human Resources Administration, this group selected Rabbi Jack Simcha Cohen as its first Executive Director and Jerome M. Becker as Chair of the organization. The Lower East Side Jewish Community Council and the Concourse Jewish Community Council were established as the first Met Council-affiliated Jewish Community Councils.
In the late 1970s,Met Council grew to include a service-oriented approach with its original coordination and advocacy goals. The Crisis Intervention unit was established to help individuals in crisis, whether from eviction, loss of income, health emergencies, immigration problems, or family violence. The Jewish Community Councils began to grow, with Met Council serving as their umbrella agency, and Rabbi David Cohen became the new Executive Director in 1979.
In the 1980s, Met Council began to expand its services further, creating the Home Energy Assistance Program, growing in-state and federal funding sources, assisting elderly clients, and starting its Home Attendant Training Program as part of its receipt of public funding for career assistance.
Met Council’s Affordable Housing Program began in the 1980s with the opening of a 12-unit housing shelter for homeless families in the Bronx.
In 1990, with Mayor Ed Koch’s new focus on saving decaying Jewish neighborhoods, Met Council partnered with JCRC and the UJA-Federation of New York to preserve Jewish neighborhoods and build housing facilities. The following year, Abraham I Residence in Seagate, Brooklyn opened, comprising of 75 housing units for formerly homeless seniors. Soon afterward, our Career Services Program began.
In the years 1993-1997, Met Council saw a golden era in the combined leadership of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Governor Mario Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and President William J. Clinton. City Hall and City Council Members, under Speaker Peter F. Vallone, understood issues of Jewish poverty, while government efficiency enabled Met Council to thrive.
Mid and Late 90s
Met Council’s unprecedented growth continued through the mid-90s, with a new Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, and the openings of the Weinberg Council Towers in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Abraham Residence II in Brooklyn, Metro House in the Bronx, the beginning of the Handyman and Metropair Program, and the first annual Builders Luncheon, honoring Frank Ross, Sr., of HRH Construction.
As Met Council moved into the 21st century, our programs continued to grow: our Kosher Food Program became a new program in the late 90s; our Benefits Enrollment Program began in early 2000; the Family Violence Unit grew from the Crisis Intervention Program; and affordable housing for senior residents expanded in Manhattan.
Since then, our organization and our fortunes have continued to thrive. We have released significant studies in Jewish Poverty and the Jewish Near-Poor, our Kosher Food Program has become the largest kosher food distribution program of its type in America, our Capacity Building initiative has flourished, and each of our departments continues to expand.
Today we are growing our programs and outreach in the community by leaps and bounds. 2008-10 brought difficult economic times to New York. Met Council has been at the forefront of meeting the increased needs in our community and strengthening our services where they’re needed most.
Together with a local non-profit, we launched three new kosher "free restaurants"; we headed up the emergency cash assistance arm of UJA-Federation’s Connect-to-Care, which brought unprecedented services to the Jewish community during a tough economy; and we broke ground on a major assisted-living residence for low-income seniors in Staten Island. In addition, we opened a stunning new residence, Park Lane at Sea View, which includes 104-units of studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments for low to moderate-income seniors in Staten Island. Construction on Council Towers V in the Bronx is underway and ground was broken for Council Towers VI in Queens.
Through our MVP group for young professionals (MVP = Most Valuable Players), Met Council is recruiting New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s to support our mission of fighting poverty through volunteering, financial support and spreading the word. And through our Food for Life campaign, we are bringing together committed New Yorkers to help fight hunger in New York City.
Today, Met Council serves over tens of thousands of clients on site and throughout our network of Jewish Community Councils in each of the City’s five boroughs. From affordable housing, capacity building initiatives, career services, crisis intervention, and family violence services, to health insurance enrollment assistance, home care programs, home services, immigrant services, and kosher food distribution, Met Council continues to be the voice of New York’s poor and working poor.
We look forward to the next decade with optimism for renewed strength and services to help us rebound from these tough times.