Thursday, September 08, 2005


progressive jewish groups respond to katrina

now we're talking...

PHILADEPHIA & NEW YORK --- In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath, two national Jewish organizations dedicated to anti-poverty and low income community development are collaborating to bring immediate and long-term assistance to effected communities.

Today The Shefa Fund and Jewish Fund for Justice (JFJ) announced the creation of the joint JFJ/Shefa Hurricane Katrina Relief and Redevelopment Project. The project will immediately establish a fund administered by The Shefa Fund and will subsequently include other efforts to engage Jews in support for low-income residents suffering from Katrina. The fund will provide essential and immediate assistance to Katrina refugees and will invest in the long-term redevelopment needs of impacted low income residents.

The Jewish Fund for Justice and The Shefa Fund are national 501(c)3 non-profit organizations; the former focuses on supporting anti-poverty organizing, the latter on redevelopment in low-income communities.

"All communities in Katrina’s path suffered," said JFJ executive director Simon Greer. "But they did not suffer equally. Low income communities in the Southeast were neglected before, during, and immediately following the hurricane. Those who had little before Katrina now have nothing. We have created this project to acknowledge that reality and to help focus some Jewish giving on the long-term redevelopment needs of the disaster’s most neglected victims."

"This fund represents a continuation of work we've been doing for years," said Jeffrey Dekro, executive director of The Shefa Fund. "While the devastation is unparalleled in scope, The Shefa Fund has considerable experience targeting Jewish giving to help low income communities get on their feet. This expertise will help guide The Shefa Fund in our administration of the Hurricane Katrina Relief and Redevelopment Fund."

The first local group to receive support from the Fund is the Jackson, MS-based Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD), a local community development financial institution (CDFI), and its New Orleans-based Hope Community Credit Union (HOPE). ECD/HOPE has twelve years of experience in strengthening distressed areas to help residents rebuild their lives, homes, businesses and communities, and currently holds a $100,000 investment from Shefa Fund’s TZEDEC Economic Development Fund. The TZEDEC program pools low- and no-interest loans from Jewish philanthropic investors and reinvests those funds in CDFIs to serve individuals, businesses, and nonprofits typically neglected by mainstream banks.

To distribute these and other funds, EDC/HOPE has set up the ECD Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. They describe their giving strategy as focused first on "community partners who are providing food, clothing and shelter’’ for those displaced, before shifting to support "payment deferrals, provide down payment assistance, establish loss reserves, and otherwise extend a bridge to those recovering from this tragedy."

"ECD/HOPE is a local organization with a stellar reputation," said Dekro. "We have been rewarded by our support for their work in the past and believe their local expertise makes them an excellent group through which to direct initial contributions from this new Fund."

According to Greer, the Fund is only the first of a series of initiatives to focus the attention of the Jewish community on the needs of low-income victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"The victims of Katrina need food, clothes, and shelter," said Greer. "But they also deserve justice. Over the coming months and years, we are committed to leading a Jewish response to the injustices suffered by those without income and influence. Creating this Fund for directed relief and redevelopment is an important first step."

Contributions to the fund can be made by visiting Additional information about the JFJ/Shefa Hurricane Katrina Relief and Redevelopment Project will soon be available on The Shefa Fund website and at

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