At 100 years old, the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Vancouver (HFLA) is a fairly spry organization, keeping current with the community’s changing needs. So, as the new year begins, it is introducing three new lending programs for trial in an effort to encourage more applicants to look to HFLA for the loan that may help them through financial hardships, finance dental work, launch their new business or fix their roof.
Emergency loan limits have doubled to a maximum of $1,500. These loans are for immediate and urgent needs and typically are processed within 48 hours of application. One qualified guarantor is needed to secure this loan.
Single-guarantor personal loans with a $5,000 maximum are being introduced, and applicants will require only one qualified guarantor.
Business, education and special purpose loans are being changed to make it easier to borrow up to $10,000. HFLA will now ask for only two qualified guarantors instead of three. Borrowers in this category use these loans for modern needs like in vitro fertilization, adoption or computer equipment for business startups.
In 1915, when Jews in the community first began making small loans, it was to buy a horse or a pushcart to open a used furniture shop or to buy supplies for a small store. These loans of $5-$25 were a lifeline for early immigrants to Vancouver to establish themselves and, in turn, to build our community. Today, we look back and see how much those first loans did to encourage financial independence and engender security for people who were unable to find money any other way. We can see in the less distant past, loans to a wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, who bought musical instruments and other vital equipment to make a living here.
There are many amazing stories of ways in which people have received assistance to get out of a bad situation or a jump-start into a new life with a loan from HFLA, and the association wants to ensure those stories continue to accumulate by reaching more people. This strategy began with HFLA’s centennial celebration in May.
The new loan programs are designed to make it easier to apply for interest-free loans quickly, with anonymity and dignity. HFLA meets every two weeks to discuss loan applications so the waiting time for a loan is brief.
For full information about all of HFLA’s loan programs, visit hfla.ca or send someone you feel will benefit from an interest-free loan to check it out (the revamped website includes simplified forms). To speak to the HFLA’s part-time administrator, Michelle Longo, call 604-428-2832.