Free Hebrew Loan “Inundated” with $ 1 Million in Loan Applications – J.


While the Bay Area is already feeling the crushing economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Hebrew Free Loan has received around $ 1 million in loan applications from laid-off workers and small businesses suffering major financial setbacks.

“We’ve been inundated,” said Cindy Rogoway, executive director of HFL, which offers interest-free loans for a variety of needs. “This is an unprecedented increase in our loan requests.

Cindy rogoway

To put it in perspective, said Rogoway, the San Francisco-based organization typically distributes about $ 400,000 in loans per month. Over a two-day period last week, HFL received 40 claims related to the coronavirus alone, totaling more than $ 500,000.

HFL announced the Special Coronavirus Hardship Program and began accepting applications on March 6. Rogoway said many of the candidates are hospitality workers, small business owners and rideshare workers.

“People are really suffering,” she said. “They are afraid for the future. You can feel their stress and fear in the language of the applications they fill out.

One person who contacted HFL is Sam Buckwalter, 33, a host at a Japanese restaurant in the Mission district of San Francisco until he was fired on March 14. While his restaurant promised to rehire him when it reopens, Buckwalter said he didn’t have savings to cover his bills and a monthly rent of $ 1,700.

“It’s just this very surreal shock,” he said. “It’s just wild. The idea that I won’t have an income, I don’t know how long it will last. Buckwalter said he asked his landlord to reduce his rent but got no response.

This is an unprecedented increase in our loan requests.

On March 19, Buckwalter applied for a loan of $ 20,000 from HFL. His candidacy is currently under consideration. He also filed for unemployment and expects to get around $ 450 a week.

But even with that financial help, Buckwalter says he will likely have to leave San Francisco. And returning home to Santa Cruz is not an option, he said, since his parents are in their 60s and he doesn’t want to risk exposing them to the coronavirus.

” I was not expecting this [coronavirus] affect so many little things in my life, ”Buckwalter said.

Rogoway said it’s not clear how many requests like Buckwalter’s his organization will be able to meet, but believes it will be a “majority” of applicants. At the same time, she said, HFL is concerned about its own cash flow as existing borrowers may not be able to make payments during the pandemic. To make up for this possibility, Rogoway said she was engaged in “a lot” of emergency fundraising.

“We have to do triage,” she said. “[We’re] trying to help the people who need it most.

Rogoway offered three ideas for people in financial difficulty: reduce non-essential bills, avoid carrying credit card debt, and consider withdrawing money from a retirement fund. (The economic relief plan currently being considered by the Senate would remove early withdrawal fees from pension funds.)

At the state level, unemployment claims in California have increased. Over the weekend, St. Louis Federal Reserve Chairman James Bullard predicted national unemployment could reach 30 percent.

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