Advocacy for Federal Action in Coronavirus Relief

The following is the open letter that HFLA of Northeast Ohio has sent to Ohio representatives and senators to address our community’s need for cash payments to alleviate the economic burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic. 


November 18, 2020

Dear Honorable Representatives and Senators of Ohio:

Representative Fudge

Representative Kaptur

Representative Gonzalez

Representative Ryan

Representative Joyce

Representative Gibbs

Representative Johnson

Representative Jordan

Senator Brown

Senator Portman

COVID-19 has put many of our fellow Americans on the brink of financial ruin. As we have throughout our 116-year history, HFLA of Northeast Ohio has responded to this crisis by issuing interest free loans to individuals without access to conventional financing, regardless of their identity. Due to this emergency our loan volume has increased by 20%, but our inquiries have increased by nearly 400%. People are pleading for help. The calls we receive range from individuals whose unemployment benefits are not nearly enough to make ends meet; parents who are forced to stay home from work while their children are learning remotely; family members who must stay outside the home to quarantine; workers who only received partial income while they were out sick…and many others we are unable to help because they need more than we can offer and lack the ability to repay a loan. Unlike Congress, who holds legislative power, our funds are limited, and we count on our dollars being repaid before we can lend them again.

Therefore, we urge the issuer of U.S. Dollars, the Federal government, to begin making generous cash payments to all Americans in need. This should be done urgently, and on a recurring basis as long as this pandemic and its aftershocks persist. Any style of relief is better than nothing, but all other forms to date have been too slow and convoluted and allowed many faultless people to fall through the cracks.

We will continue to do everything we can, but as a legislator in Washington D.C., we hope you realize the uniqueness of your position at this historic moment and use it to deliver what only you can-direct cash payments.

Sincerely,

Michal Marcus, Executive Director 

Laura Kleinman, HFLA Board President

HFLA Staff: Hillary Butler, Katy Fuerst, Brady Gasser, Leslie Wright

Board of Directors: Lisa Arlyn Lowe, Karil Bialostosky, Jonathan Brown, David Edelman, Lorie Gelb, Eric Kaston, Scott Lewis, Irwin Lowenstein, Carrie Miller, Stuart Ostro, Jason Powers, Brian Rosenfelt, Debra Shaw, Dara Weinerman-Steinberg, Christine Weiss, Carol Willen


Join us and the Ohio CDC Association, on November 19, 2020 for Call-In Day to demand the Senate immediately pass a coronavirus relief bill that includes essential housing and homelessness resources and protections that have already cleared the U.S. House.

What you can say when you call:

  • Nearly 250,000 Ohio Households are behind on rent.
  • 86,000 Ohio households are concerned they will be evicted in the next 2 months.
  • CARES Act funding for emergency rental assistance expires December 31st.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires December 31st.
  • Ohio and the nation face a major eviction crisis in 2021 if Congress doesn’t pass a relief bill with significant funding for housing assistance immediately.
  • Please join Senator Brown in supporting $100 billion for emergency rental assistance and $11.5 billion for homeless programs in the next coronavirus relief bill.
For more information about Coronavirus relief negotiations and National Call-In Day, see this recent update from our friends, the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Information retrieved from the Ohio CDC Association. 


Hear Our Stories: 2020 Loan Recipients

Hear Our Stories: 2020 Loan Recipients

Each year we highlight a group of HFLA loan recipients who embody the our mission through their personal story and character. This year, we have highlighted a group of extraordinary women, who through strength, resiliency, and resourcefulness, overcame obstacles and moved closer to achieving their dreams. HFLA is proud to have been a part of their journeys as a resource that provided the support they needed at a pivotal point in each of their lives.

The Carmens

HFLA helped three generations of Latina women on Cleveland’s near west side regain control of their finances. 

After Carmen Vazquez’s husband passed away, her family struggled to adjust to their new financial situation. She, her daughter, and her mother began living together and supporting each other financially.  However, when critical repairs needed to be done to their home, Carmen’s family did not have enough saved to cover the expenses, and they were unable to obtain a bank loan for the repairs. 

HFLA first met Carmen during open office hours at one of our partner organizations, Metro West CDO. Jose Colon of Community Financial Centers was working with her as her financial coach. He suggested that Carmen apply for a small, interest-free loan from HFLA to help consolidate some high-interest credit card debt that accrued after her husband’s passing, which would help her qualify for a home equity loan later on. Carmen and her mother applied for the loan, and her daughter stepped in to guarantee the loan for them.

HFLA’s interest-free loan allowed Carmen to move the credit card debt onto a short term, interest-free repayment schedule. She continued working with her financial coach and developed a very disciplined budget with new strategies to help her stay on top of her finances. Carmen no longer has high-interest credit card debt holding her back from accessing the funds she needs to repair her home and will soon re-apply for a conventional home equity loan through her bank.

Patti McSuley

HFLA helped a breast cancer survivor make a safe space for women battling cancer to feel beautiful.

Patti McSuley had been working as a cosmetologist for only a few years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Medical bills quickly piled up from her treatment and, like many Americans, Patti filed bankruptcy due to the insurmountable debt. After the experience, Patti began Compassionate Wigs, a wig salon for women going through chemotherapy or hair loss. 

At its start, Patti’s business was a room within a larger salon. She realized that her business would quickly outgrow this space due to the amount of wig inventory needed to serve her clients. As she began to look for a new location for her business to grow within, she also began searching for funding sources. Patti received a small grant from the Youngstown Business Incubator and a low-interest loan from the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation to secure her space and make the necessary renovations.

Unfortunately this funding would not become available for Patti for a few months and she needed capital immediately to make the salon operable and obtain needed inventory. Because of Patti’s previous bankruptcy, she was ineligible for a traditional small business loan. It was at this point that Patti was referred to HFLA by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation as a way to increase her stock of wigs, wig cleaner, and other specialty products that she needed for her new storefront business.

Today, Patti is the proud owner of Salon 224 in Boardman. She provides traditional salon services and operates Compassionate Wigs out of the salon in a private room large enough for women to come in with their own support team as they work with Patti to choose and style their wig. HFLA’s loan helped Patti achieve her dream of making each woman look and feel her best during cancer treatment,

Chika Morkah

HFLA was able to help an international student achieve her educational goals. 

Chika Morka is an international student from Nigeria who came to the U.S in the Spring of 2016 to further her studies at Cleveland State University. After her arrival, changes in laws made it impossible for her to receive money from her home in Nigeria, stranding her one semester away from graduation with no way to pay her tuition. Chika was introduced to HFLA by a classmate who had received an HFLA education loan previously. This education loan allowed Chika to not only pay for her tuition and register for her last semester for her at CSU, but allowed her to remain in the U.S. on her student Visa. Without this funding, Chika would not have been registered for classes and would have been forced to return home as she would have been out of compliance with her Visa.

Chika finished her Master’s of both Psychology and Diversity & Inclusion Management in Spring 2020, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Global Leadership and Change.

I was ecstatic when I received my education loan. I was worried that I wouldn’t qualify because I am an international student, but I was relieved and grateful. It was a life-changing moment for me. I have been spreading the news in my own little way to tell people about the positive impact an organization like HFLA is having in the Northeast Ohio community.” – Chika

DeLane Anthony-Loggins

HFLA helped a small business stay on track during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

DeLane Anthony-Loggins is an MBA graduate, licensed esthetician and the small business owner of The Wax Bar originally located in Woodmere Village.  She opened The Wax Bar and Beauty by LA at 25 years old. Through hard work, she has built her business to nearly 3,000 clients over 6 years.

In March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the state of Ohio mandated closures of “non-essential” businesses, including salons and spas, DeLane was forced to close. It could not have come at a worse time–she was in the middle of planning her salon’s expansion and relocation.  DeLane began the process of expanding her salon several years ago. The abrupt and indefinite closure of her business left her at a crossroads: should she move forward with her expansion plans or put her dream on hold? DeLane initially decided to put the move on hold.  Fortunately, a few weeks later, the landlord of the storefront where DeLane wanted to relocate the business sent her information on HFLA’s interest-free loan. 

DeLane’s Small Business Emergency Loan allowed her to order PPE and supplies to prepare herself and her business for reopening. This interest-free loan also allowed her to move forward with her plans to move and expand her business. “There’s always a silver-lining, even when you least expect it.  HFLA during the pandemic was my silver-lining.” – DeLane


News 5 Cleveland: Local non-profit helps people of color overcome financial roadblocks

Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 6:28 PM, Oct 20, 2020

CLEVELAND — A local non-profit is looking to break down the barriers that keep people of color from accessing capital.

When Angela Sharpley set out to secure the funding she needed to expand her business, she initially found some resistance.

“I was told that there was no help for me out here,” said Angela Sharpley, small business owner.

It was the message she heard from a lender right out of the gate.

“They never got to my credit, so that’s the only thing they had to go off of was who I was,” said Sharpley.

When intentionally placed roadblocks prevent people of color like Sharpley from accessing the cash they need, HFLA of Northeast Ohio steps in to help bridge that divide.

“Our mission is to help people that don’t have access to fair financial tools,” said Michal Marcus with HFLA of Northeast Ohio.

For more than a century, the non-profit has been providing interest-free loans to those who might otherwise go without just because of who they are.

“How race and racism play out with regards to access to capital and investment absolutely needs to be at the forefront,” said Mark Joseph, CWRU professor of community development.

Along with intentional decisions based on appearance, Joseph said there is implicit bias at play.

“We have something in our perception or mindset that would lead us to believe that someone who is African-American, a person of color, is less creditworthy,” said Joseph.

Along with racism, not knowing where​ to find resources often keeps access to funding out of reach. Joseph said that includes “understanding where you can go for loans, for investment, or capital.”

It’s a similar issue Sharpley said she faced when starting out.

“You don’t have a road map to know where to go,” said Sharpley.

When people do finally find that direction, Sharpley hopes they have an equal chance to get the cash they need to invest in their community.

“I would like for the playing field to be made fair,” said Sharpley.

On Wednesday night, HFLA will tackle these and other topics during a virtual event called “Fostering Economic Equity: Fixing the Racial Imbalance in Consumer Finance.

“More corporations, banks, and larger financial institutions need to step up with fair financial tools,” said Marcus.

The online conversation begins at 5:30 p.m.

It is free and open to anyone in the community.

You can register at Interestfree.org.


Watch the full event and panel discussion, Fostering Economic Equity: Fixing the Racial Imbalance in Consumer Finance, on our website here: www.interestfree.org/events/fostering-economic-equity/


What can HFLA of Northeast Ohio do to foster financial equity?

Dear Supporters,

It feels like such a long time ago that the stay at home order was declared, schools were closed, businesses shuttered, and we saw our own normal operations swiftly shift to high-demand, touch-free, and remote procedures. Our state has moved forward since these mandates and Ohioans are trying to create some sense of normalcy within this chaotic period in our American history. Despite the national pandemic, protests continue to fight for change and equitable practices within our country and government systems, leaving HFLA of Northeast Ohio to confront a very important question:

What do we do to fight for change and equitable practices within the region we serve?

As staff and board members, we have an idea where to start, but we want to hear the input of our supporters, our clients, and our entire Northeastern Ohio community.

HFLA’s interest-free financing options are available to those who are unable to access conventional forms of financing. This inability to access bank or credit union loans is often due to systemic barriers that prevent those circling poverty from achieving financial security. Some of the most underserved populations in our country in terms of access to finance and capital are African Americans and Latinx communities.

Within our Northeast Ohio region, HFLA’s loan disbursement includes 52% to Black/African Americans individuals and 9% to Latinx borrowers. HFLA has smaller percentages of loans going to other demographic groups, including 3% to borrowers of Middle Eastern descent, 2% to Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2% to two or more races. Our business loan portfolio is made up of 62% business owners/entrepreneurs of color and 42% of all business loans are made to BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) women (data retrieved August 2020).

HFLA has always served those who were left without equitable financial resources. Whether that means serving European immigrants in the early 1900s, or serving communities struggling to overcome economic barriers today.

This fall, on October 21st, 2020, we will take a step towards confronting the systemic inequities in the financial system with an online panel discussion with area leaders titled:

Fostering Economic Equity: Fixing the Racial Imbalance in Consumer Finance

Please stay connected with us as we provide more information and updates. This will be an honest and enlightening discussion on what the current situation is and what changes can be made to make a better future for all Northeast Ohioans.

Together we can replant Northeast Ohio.

Learn More

HFLA Receives Grant from Healthy Lakewood Foundation

Press release from the Healthy Lakewood Foundation.

Find an official .pdf of the press release here: Healthy Lakewood Foundation Second Cycle of Grants Press Release. 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2020
Contact: Jeanine Gergel, Healthy Lakewood Foundation Board President
healthylakewoodfoundation@gmail.com

Healthy Lakewood Foundation Announces Second Cycle of Grants to Address COVID-19 Community Needs

The Healthy Lakewood Foundation (HLF) board of directors awarded the following grants at its May 2020 meeting in an ongoing effort to address community needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
● Department of Human Services, City of Lakewood: $60,000 for resident emergency needs
● HFLA of Northeast Ohio: $57,500 to establish a pool of Covid-19 emergency loans exclusively for Lakewood residents
● Asian Services in Action, Inc. (ASIA, Inc.): $15,000 to meet the emergency needs of refugee and immigrant families in Lakewood

“The Healthy Lakewood Foundation board believes these three organizations are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of residents experiencing some of the most acute health and safety risks as well as those undergoing financial difficulties as a result of the public health crisis,” says HLF Board President Jeanine Gergel. “We are especially concerned about how the pandemic is impacting Lakewood’s most vulnerable residents and recognize our responsibility to make the resources we have been entrusted with available to assist them.”

The three newly announced grants are in addition to two previous grants awarded by HLF in March 2020 to Lakewood Community Services Center ($50,000) and Department of Human Services, City of Lakewood ($25,000), bringing the Foundation’s total year-to-date grantmaking to meet resident emergency needs to $207,500. Additional grants will be awarded later in the year as the evolving needs of the community resulting from the pandemic become more clearly understood. HLF will continue to assess community needs through proactive outreach with community leaders and service providers to identify funding opportunities for future phases of crisis response grantmaking. HLF will hold its second annual community meeting in September. Residents are encouraged to attend to share their perspectives on how COVID-19 is affecting community health and well-being as well as to hear more about the foundation’s vision and strategy. The meeting date and location will be announced later this summer.

Individuals interested in learning more about HFLA of Northeast Ohio’s COVID-19 emergency loan program and finding out if they qualify can visit the organization’s website at www.interestfree.org or can contact lending staff directly at team@interestfree.org .

About the Healthy Lakewood Foundation: The Healthy Lakewood Foundation (HLF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community foundation. HLF was created to ensure remaining assets from the conversion of the Lakewood Hospital will continue to benefit the health and wellness of residents in the City of Lakewood. HLF was established in September 2018 as part of the master agreement following the closing of Lakewood Hospital. HLF was formed from the Foundation Planning Task Force and through their recommendation to the City of Lakewood and the Lakewood Hospital Association.

To contact HLF, please visit www.healthylakewoodfoundation.org or email healthylakewoodfoundation@gmail.com .
###


Press release from the Healthy Lakewood Foundation.

Find an official .pdf of the press release here: Healthy Lakewood Foundation Second Cycle of Grants Press Release. 


Savings Strategies for a Tight Budget

While HFLA of Northeast Ohio is here to provide interest-free loans to those who need them, the ultimate goal is to not need one. How? Meet your new best friend – a Savings Plan.

Ideally, a savings account or emergency fund can give you the cash you need in times of crisis without relying on loans or cash advances.

Unfortunately, we are all currently stuck smack in the middle of a global health crisis. A crisis that is having a major impact not only on our daily lives and health, but especially on our income and personal savings. Fortunately, many of us will be receiving a Federal Stimulus Check and for some of us, a tax refund as well. While this surge in cash during this crisis may feel like the answer to all your problems right now, it is important to use this money wisely and to think long-term. This boost can help you take effective steps towards a long-term savings plan to get you and your family through this pandemic and find financial security in the future.

What is an Emergency Fund?

The rule of thumb for an “Emergency Fund” is 3 months worth of living expenses in your savings account. The reality however, is that many Americans struggle to come up with $1,000 in an emergency. We at HFLA do feel that it is crucial to develop an emergency fund however, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. A slow and steady strategy will allow you to gradually and reasonably work up to your savings goals.

Observing prudent savings strategies now will make a world of difference once we all come out the other side of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Federal Stimulus Checks: To save, or to spend?

Your Federal Stimulus Checks can really get you out of a bad situation if you have had a significant decline in income over the past couple of months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Here are a few things to consider:

1.   Talk to your creditors and lenders

The CARES Act has a provision allowing those with Federally backed mortgages a 12 month reprieve on some mortgages, with states individually rolling out their own provisions in response. Because of the varying responses, it is important to reach out to your lender if you are having financial difficulties. Discuss with your lender options you can take, or get started on the application process.

2.   Put all of your expenses down on paper — Then Prioitize. 

Take some quality time with your bills and bank account and find every single regular expense that you have. Hopefully this gives you a very clear picture of your monthly expenses and how your current income is measuring up. 

Next, prioritize what is essential from most important to least. Starting with food and shelter, utilities, insurance, minimum loan and credit card payments, and ending with non-essential subscriptions (Netflix and maybe let’s chill on this subscription for now). 

Make sure you are taking into account any leniencies in your area. Are your local utilities companies providing any sort of payment plan options? Are your lenders offering any type of pauses on payments? If you have student loans, could you hold off on your payments until September?

3.   Put your stimulus check to work

Now that you’ve worked out exactly what your priority expenses are in comparison to your current income, you can let your stimulus check fill in the gaps that may have been growing, or take that check and invest it into your emergency fund.

We acknowledge that during these times, everyone’s situation is different! Do what is best for you. We urge you to always prioritize your safety, health, and well-being as you consider any financial decisions.

Take Advantage of  Your Tax Refund in 2 Ways

Luckily for many of us, income tax refunds can provide some much needed “bonus” cash that can be used to stabilize your finances.

1.   Add one month of living expenses to your savings

You just worked out your monthly expenses, so if you can, add that total to your savings now with your tax refund!

Remember to include: rent/mortgage, food, utilities, car note, minimum credit card payments, and insurance. Can you take this amount out of your tax refund? If yes, put that into your savings IMMEDIATELY! If not, try to put a portion of that into your savings and strive to save the rest up throughout the year.

2.   Catch up on collections or due balances

Review your credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com to see if you are behind on any collections or any accounts.

Use your tax refund to give your credit a boost and get caught up on things that are too big to tackle all at once. Consider speaking to a financial coach or financial counselor to help you with clear goals on what debts to tackle first.

3 Tips to Start Saving Without Breaking the Bank!

Some simple ways to start reaching your financial goals, even on a tight budget. 

1.   Make a SMART plan for your savings goal

Let’s say you want to save up one month’s living expenses, equaling $500, in one year.

Your specific goal is to contribute one month’s living expenses to savings measured to be $500 total. Your regularly measured goal equals $42 a month over 12 months. You check, “Is this goal attainable with my current income and expenses?” If yes, stick with it! If no, lower the measurable goal to something that fits within your budget. You ask, “Is this goal relevant, will it help me in the long run?” Yes! You will eventually have one month of living expenses that could be relevant during an emergency! You set a goal date of 12 months to keep your goal time-bound

 

 

Once you’ve achieved one SMART goal, make another! Check out this worksheet from Consumerfinance.gov and create your own.

2.   Set up direct deposit and “pay yourself” first

If you haven’t already, set up direct deposit to get your paychecks into your bank account quickly and safely.

Every time you receive a paycheck, “pay yourself” first! Take a predetermined amount from your paycheck and deposit it into your savings account before spending anything! By contributing a small portion of every paycheck into your savings account, you are growing your savings fund at least once a month without having any time to to spend it. Some banks also offer automatic savings that directly takes a designated amount of your paycheck each time. Even $5 a paycheck can go a long way when you stick with it!     

3.     Become a “Brown-Bagger”  

Making the change from buying to packing lunch is definitely a lifestyle commitment, but one that can save you thousands of dollars annually.

One cup of coffee a week can be anywhere from $2-$5 dollars. That alone adds up to at least $100 a year! Getting takeout can be inexpensive, but still at least $5 a day. Make your coffee at home, plan your meals the day before, and put that money back in the bank! Every time you feel the urge to buy food or coffee instead of making it yourself, total up what you are about to spend and put that money into your savings instead. You’ll be amazed to see how much you would have spent!

And most importantly, don’t touch your savings account!

Keep your hands out of your savings account as much as you can. Treat it like it is money only to be spent in an emergency. Schedule dates where you check on it’s growth. You’ll be surprised with how much you’ve put away in such a short time by keeping your hands off and eyes out!     


About HFLA of Northeast Ohio

HFLA of Northeast Ohio was founded in 1904 with $501 donated by Charles Ettinger, Morris Black, and their friends to help European refugees settle and begin productive lives in this country. They believed – as we do now – that if you give someone a chance to succeed, they will pay it back and we can continue this transformative cycle. The same principle guides the organization today. By providing interest-free loans to individuals, families, and small businesses in the Northeast Ohio area, we are able to help people help themselves. The association has drastically increased its lending capital in the past few years from individual gifts, bequests, endowments, foundation grants, memorials and honorariums and is now operating with a loan fund of over $1 million. HFLA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Learn more about HFLA.

Get involved and stay up to date by subscribing to our quarterly newsletter or following us on social media.



Avoiding Financial Scams During COVID-19

Avoiding Financial Scams During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are all trying to navigate a “new normal” in our daily lives. It has been inspiring to see how many individuals, small businesses, and families are coming together to lift up their community and strive to make a difference in the lives of those who are facing difficulties. 

Yet, despite this new “distant” community connection, we must still be wary of scams that try to take advantage of the vulnerability and generosity that we see today.

We have some basic tips to keep yourself safe from scammers during these times.

3 Essential Rules:

  1. Do not give your Social Security number, any bank account numbers, or credit/debit card numbers to someone over the phone. You have no way of guaranteeing the identity of whoever is on the other line. 
  2. If someone solicits you for something that you’ve “won,” an investment opportunity, or a “limited time offer,” walk away. If it seems too good to be true, IT IS
  3. If you are looking at financing or loan options, look for the Truth in Lending Act within the loan documents. If you are unable to find reasonable interest rates on a personal loan, contact HFLA of Northeast Ohio.

From the Ohio Department of Health: 

  • Robocalls – Never provide personal information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers to automated messages. If you think that the message is legitimate, call the organization via a local branch number and speak to a representative. 
  • Emails from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Legitimate information is available from the CDC via coronavirus.gov and from the Ohio Department of Health at coronavirus.ohio.gov
  • Federal stimulus checks – Updates can be found on the Federal Trade Commission website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/03/checks-government – You WILL NOT need to pay money in order to receive your stimulus check, you WILL NOT need to provide social security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers. DO NOT GIVE THIS INFORMATION OUT.
  • Research charities before donating (that includes us!) – Find a database of registered charities on the Ohio Attorney General’s website: https://charitableregistration.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Charities/Research-Charities.aspx

If you suspect unfair or deceptive sales practices, contact the office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost: www.ohioprotects.org – 1-800-282-0515

Keep up to date with the latest scam alerts on the Federal Trade Commission website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts


COVID-19 Resources for Northeast Ohio

COVID-19 Resources for Northeast Ohio

HFLA of Northeast Ohio aims to bring resources that are relevant to the community it serves. This is not a replacement for 211 or existing community resource guides in your community. It is highly suggested you look at and support existing local resources. 
HFLA of Northeast Ohio has not vetted all of these organizations or offerings––these are provided as-is. If you have any comments, or contributions to this list please contact us at team@interstfree.org – subject: COVID-19 Resources. 

For the most accurate and up to date information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio visit the Ohio Department of Health 

Ohio Department of Health | COVID-19 Testing and Community Health Centers

Rental & Housing Assistance

Energy & Utility Assistance Programs

Northeast Ohio Resources

Greater Ohio Resources

Food Resources: 

Small Business Resources


Cleveland Jewish News: HFLA Offers Expedited Loans

HFLA offers expedited loans up to $1,500 for those impacted by COVID-19

After Gov. Mike DeWine closed all Ohio schools March 12, the Hebrew Free Loan Association Of Northeast Ohio didn’t waste time enacting an expedited emergency loan program, which loans individuals up to $1,500 interest free.

The next day, the Beachwood-based organization received 60 calls, and the number only increased after bars and restaurants were ordered to shut down in the days following.

The loans are meant for Northeast Ohioans who have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that means loss of income, a sudden need for funds to pay for child care or another need. 

Executive Director Michal Marcus said the organization typically requires a guarantor on loans it offers up to $10,000. For the expedited $1,500 loans, all that’s required to apply is an application and documentation. 

“These are being written directly to individuals because we know if you are a restaurant worker, or in some type of service industry that isn’t working now and you aren’t getting income, you are going to need that money to buy groceries, you are going to need that money to pay a babysitter,” Marcus said. “There are needs where we can’t write it directly to the source of need.”

In the first week of expedited loans, HFLA was able to provide same-day turnaround on the loans once an application was complete and a promissory note was signed. HFLA is using DocuSign so the loans can be signed electronically.

Marcus said because her organization is now working remotely, checks could take three to five days to appear for loans because “it’s coming directly from the bank and we are trying to have as little physical touch as possible.”

In the first week of the program, Marcus said she saw “a lot of anxiety” around the impact of the pandemic and the unknown end date. 

She said the first person to receive an emergency loan was a single mother working at University Hospitals who now needs to pay for child care since her children are out of school. More loans went to those in the restaurant industry, and she’s been contacted by substitute teachers who don’t get paid if they aren’t in school. 

The HFLA expedited loans are generally targeted toward individuals, although Marcus said small businesses are also likely to suffer and need larger loans. 

Marcus also said she was grateful for HFLA’s supporters who have reached out to ask how they can help the organization continue on its path. 

“That has been kind of heartwarming to know – seeing how much people care,” she said. “And we do need it, our funds will run out.”

For more information, visit interestfree.org.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Fund Press Release

If you DO NOT have the ability to print and scan or fax, please contact us for an alternative application. 

Contact Us

If you have the ability to print and scan or fax documents, you may access the .pdf version of the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Application below

COVID-19 Emergency Loan Application (ENGLISH)COVID-19 Emergency Loan Application (SPANISH)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Michal Marcus (HFLA)

Tel: 216-378-9042

Email: michal@interestfree.org

Coronavirus interest-free loan fund

Cleveland, Ohio (March 12, 2020) –

By now we have all heard about the evolving impacts from the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the globe. For many of us, the effects have shifted from a piece of news to a part of life.

Along with health concerns, there are many unfortunate financial implications: events are being canceled, restaurants are left empty, and people unable to go to work as they live through their quarantine, to name a few. For many working people in Northeast Ohio and the surrounding this can quickly lead to financial crisis.

To meet this need, the HFLA of Northeast Ohio will be offering interest-free loans for those affected economically by the coronavirus who live in Northeast Ohio.

HFLA will provide expedited Interest-free loans of up to $1,500 for purposes including (but not limited to):

  • Lost wages due to being unable to go to work
  • Child care costs due to school closures
  • Related medical costs

To apply, borrowers should contact HFLA at 216-378-9042 or email team@interestfree.org specifying that the request is for coronavirus related needs.

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About HFLA of Northeast Ohio

HFLA of Northeast Ohio was founded in 1904 with $501 donated by Charles Ettinger, Morris Black, and their friends to help European refugees settle and begin productive lives in this country. They believed – as we do now – that if you give someone a chance to succeed, they will pay it back and we can continue this transformative cycle. The same principle guides the organization today. By providing interest-free loans to individuals, families, and small businesses in the Northeast Ohio area, we are able to help people help themselves. The association has drastically increased its lending capital in the past few years from individual gifts, bequests, endowments, foundation grants, memorials and honorariums and is now operating with a loan fund of over $1 million. HFLA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Learn more about HFLA.

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