Robert Tobias is president of the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. (Staff)
The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA), swamped by heavy demand, has suspended emergency loans for federal workers in financial trouble because of sequester-related furloughs.
“It is always our goal to be able to assist every fed, every time,” Robert Tobias, president of the non-profit group’s board, said in a Wednesday news release announcing the halt. “However, financial circumstances compel us to take a different path at this time.”
Since the beginning of May, the fund has doled out more than $500,000 in no-interest loans to federal employees having trouble paying rent or meeting other basic needs. That sum is close to what the organization normally gives out in an entire year; the bulk of those loans went to some 635 workers who cited furloughs as the source of their hardship, Robyn Kehoe, FEEA director of field operations, said in a phone interview.
“This has just been unprecedented for us,” Kehoe said.
About 50 applications for furlough loans are currently pending, she added. Furloughed workers can continue to apply if other factors — such as a divorce or a spouse’s losing a job — are involved. Otherwise, it will likely be next month before FEEA officials decide whether they have enough money to resume furlough loans, she said. For potential donors, information on how to contribute is available at the organization’s website.
While the Defense Department and several other agencies last month reduced the total number of planned furlough days, FEEA is still receiving between a dozen and 20 applications for furlough-related loans each day, Kehoe said. Last month, the volume of furlough-related loans topped $235,000, compared to about $3,000 in May. The maximum loan amount is $1,000.