Providing a hand up, not a hand out.
When Jews of Houston have no other source of funds for food, rent, medical care and other needs, the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Houston is available to provide immediate assistance in the form of a confidential, interest free loan.
The Association was organized in the 1930s to fulfill the Biblical commandment to lend to the poor and needy as found in Devarim (Deuteronomy):
If there be among you a poor man, …thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open they hand wide to him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he lacks.
According to the rabbis and sages of the Jewish people, the commandment of lending to a person in need is stronger and greater than the commandment of giving charity, for it permits a person to avoid both the publication of one’s distress by relying on hand outs from others and the shame often suffered by one faced with no alternative other than reliance on charity. The very same Biblical verse which is the foundation for the obligation to assist the financially distressed with a loan also prohibits the charging of any interest on the amount borrowed.
Our loans are documented by a promissory note. In the case of larger loans, guarantees are required. The Association, unlike most lenders, does not charge interest, costs or loan fees to any borrower.
A loan committee must approve all loan applications to ensure that the loan complies with the Association’s Articles of Association and loan guidelines. In emergency situations, loans can be approved the same day. All applications and decisions of the loan committee are kept confidential.
Loan repayments are the primary source of funding for new loans. Membership dues and other contributions replenish loan losses that are not fully repaid. In this manner, HFLA resources are truly renewable.