Jewish federal employees who are struggling with expenses due to the government shutdown can now find some relief.
The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington approved an emergency program in early January to provide loans of up to $2,000 per household to affected Jews living in the Washington, D.C., area.
Several people have applied and two have been approved, the organization’s president, David Farber, told JTA on Jan. 9. The association has allocated some $30,000 to the program, and it is reaching out to local synagogues and Jewish organizations to help in case the demand extends beyond that threshold.
Some 800,000 federal employees are not being paid due to the government shutdown that started on Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump and the Democrats failed to reach a deal on whether to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In an effort to aid the struggling workers, the organization has expedited the approval process and relaxed some of its requirements for those seeking loans. Workers will have to pay back the loans when the shutdown ends; they are expected to receive their back pay.
“There are many federal employees both in the Greater Washington area and across the country who are not making that much money and unfortunately live paycheck to paycheck,” Farber said. “For those people in our Jewish community, they will be very much affected by this shutdown as it continues on and their cash flow may be seriously disrupted.”
Farber said his organization “was happy to step up and respond to what we see as an emerging need and hopefully one that will end soon to fill the gap.”
Founded in 1909, the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington provides interest-free loans to members of the Jewish community to help with needs such as medical and emergency bills, credit card debts and student loans.
Hebrew Free Loan organizations in San Francisco and Austin, Texas, also are providing loans to those affected by the shutdown, the Forward and J. Weekly reported.
As of Jan. 23, the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Tucson had not received any applications from those affected by the shutdown. Unlike many other Hebrew Free Loan Associations around the world that make loans only to Jewish applicants, Tucson’s program is non-sectarian. To contact the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Tucson, visit www.tucsonfreeloan.org, or call Yana Krone at 297-5360.