What Constitutes as “Distress”

The purpose of the Fund is to relieve distress or to promote the well-being of individuals who qualify for assistance. It is difficult to give an all encompassing definition of the word “distress” as the decision whether or not distress exists in a particular case is based on the circumstances of that case. Generally speaking, however, distress is deemed to exist when an applicant or his/her dependents are suffering hard-ship due to a lack of the necessities of life, e.g., food, clothing, shelter, and medical care including hospitalization. Distress may also be evident when an applicant has personal debts which cannot be met as a result of unexpected calls upon income due to sickness, accident, death, or other unforseen eventualities, and where the payment of such accounts would deprive the applicant or his/her dependents of the ordinary necessities of life, or would cause undue hardship. In the final analysis, RCNBF officials, following a thorough review of an application, must determine the degree of distress associated with that application. In essence, when a person feels that there is an element of distress in his/her case an application for assistance should be completed.

In meeting its secondary objective of promoting well-being, the RCNBF has no rigid guidelines or definition although unforseen misfortune and serious debt causing financial distress are partial prerequisites. The financial status of the applicant is a prime factor in assessing the merits of each application. The promotion of well-being might include, for example, financial aid for transportation in connection with death or serious illness, or aid to meet unforeseen contingencies or to provide temporary comforts or amenities.

The Fund is unable to assist applicants or their dependents to maintain a standard of living which is clearly beyond their means. Debts for non-essentials or luxuries are not considered proper grounds to support a request for relief of distress. Assistance cannot be given to an applicant who is capable, wholly or partially, of solving his/her own problem by the proper use of income, or other assets, but who is not making appropriate efforts to do so.

Applicants are reminded that the Fund cannot be regarded as an alternative to commercial loan organizations, and a loan from the Fund is not usually made when the applicant is in a position to obtain assistance from such other sources.