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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 97-92
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-142011:30 a.m. Tuesday
Or contact your local HUD officeJune 10, 1997


WASHINGTON -- Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced $5 million in Federal loan guarantees are in the pipeline for churches victimized by arson around the nation.

Cuomo announced that the first $668,000 in loans will go to four predominantly African-American churches: Second New Light Church in Bridgeport, CT ($413,000); Greater Mount Zion Tabernacle in Portsmouth, VA ($180,000); Emmanuel Church in Decatur, AL ($65,000); and the New Birth Temple Church in Shreveport, LA ($10,000).

Another $4.3 million in loan guarantee applications from 16 churches are awaiting final approval by lenders or the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Church Arson Prevention Act, signed into law by President Clinton last year, allows HUD to make $10 million in loan guarantees to churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship damaged by arson. The loan guarantees will enable the places of worship to save money by obtaining below-market interest rates on loans from private lenders and will allow the churches to extend repayment over 20 years.

HUD is the lead Federal agency in the drive to help rebuild burned-out churches. The Department created the National Rebuilding Initiative in partnership with the National Council of Churches and the Congress of National Black Churches to spearhead the effort and coordinate the delivery of millions of dollars in aid, supplies and services that the groups are raising.

Cuomo made the loan guarantee announcement at a meeting today with representatives of churches from around the country to discuss a broad range of Federal programs to assist religious institutions damaged by arson. Vice President Al Gore delivered the main address to the group, and Attorney General Janet Reno, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt also spoke.

"We will not permit the terrible combination of matches, gasoline and hatred to wipe out churches built with love, faith and charity," Cuomo said. "If we allow the destruction caused by church arsonists to stand, we allow them to proclaim victory -- and that is intolerable."

The HUD announcement was welcomed by the Rev. Albert Pennybacker, Associate General Council of the National Council of Churches, and by Niathan Allen, Director of the Congress of National Black Churches Arson Response Team.

"This is a great breakthrough," Pennybacker said. "We welcome the occasion to have the accompanying loan piece added to our funding for these churches."

"This is a great thing," Allen said. "We need to deliver all of our resources to our churches."

HUD and the church groups have completed the assessment of 124 places of worship so far, and will continue to reach out to other places of worship victimized by arsonists. HUD and the church groups work together to determine the rebuilding needs of each burned-out church.

Up to now, 54 churches have been found eligible for a blended package of HUD loan assistance, National Council of Churches grant assistance, and donations of goods, services and labor. Another six churches qualify for only HUD loan assistance, 29 have received National Council of Churches grant assistance, and 10 remain in consideration for future assistance. The remaining 25 were found to need no assistance.

HUD contacts all places of worship that have been hit by fires under investigation by the Federal Church Arson Task Force to ensure that the organizations are aware of the HUD loan program. HUD also provides technical assistance to churches eligible for loan assistance, such as identifying lenders and processing loan applications.

The National Council of Churches has so far raised more than $8 million in funds, supplies and services to rebuild churches damaged by arson and hate crimes. The group has joined with Habitat for Humanity to provide a network of volunteer specialists and laborers to assist with rebuilding efforts.

The Congress of National Black Churches launched a $12 million drive in January to provide rebuilding assistance to 50 churches over the next three years. The group has already raised $6 million of the funds from the Lily Foundation.

In addition, the Ford Foundation, AFL-CIO and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith are among other groups involved in the rebuilding effort.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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