Our Emergency Barrier Relief Program is designed to provide emergency, one-time financial assistance to those who may be in danger of losing their housing or job due to a single obstacle. The Fund is intended for Dane County residents regardless of their faith, age, ethnicity, or race.  Most of the recipients identify as Black or a Person of Color and are Christian.  

History of the Program

The Covid-19 pandemic was an entirely new challenge for Jewish Social Services and the community we serve. 

In 2020, Development Assistant Jim Mackman had a conversation with JSS supporter Tim Mazur.  He expressed his concern about the regressive nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The people whose jobs were most at risk were primarily the people who were least likely to have enough financial reserves to stay afloat in their housing without a stable income.  Many people already needed case management help to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, but that need was going to increase the longer the pandemic persisted.  It was clear that a tsunami of need was likely to come, especially when eviction moratoriums and expanded unemployment benefits would come to an end. Tim and Jim decided that, for many of the clients at JSS, this challenge was going to take a combination of case management and material resources. They dreamed that JSS would find a way to provide emergency assistance to those likely to lose their housing without it.  

JSS case worker Maya Garbuz meets with a client and his dog.

In December 2020, Tim responded to the crisis by establishing a Covid Emergency Fund at JSS.  To date, Tim and his wife Kathy have contributed $145,000 to this financial assistance fund to enable people to maintain their housing. 

The Covid Emergency Fund was initially exclusively to help families and individuals who have been impacted directly or indirectly by the Covid-19 pandemic in ways that threaten their stability of housing and ability to maintain their essential needs. Although the primary intent is to help to maintain stable housing, needs that are indirectly related to housing may qualify for this program.  This includes things that stabilize employment such as transportation expenses, medical expenses, cell phone service, Internet access, and utilities. In early 2022, as the Covid pandemic shifted into a chronic phase it became clear that there were many people who were at risk of losing their housing due to similar one-time financial barriers that were unrelated to the Covid pandemic.  Time approved making a change to allow the fund to be used to help anyone at risk of losing their housing and the name of the fund was changed to the JSS Emergency Barrier Relief Fund

Today, the Emergency Barrier Relief Fund helps individuals from all over Dane County. If you or someone you know might be eligible for this service, please call our main number at 608-442-4081.