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Coordinating Committee Recast As National Refugee Service, Inc.; Broad Program Mapped

Reorganization of the National Coordinating Committee for Refugees into a broad and centralized National Refugee Service, Inc., has been undertaken, it was learned today, in order to deal with the growing and increasingly complex refugee problem.

Revamping of the committee, which was founded in 1934, from a coordinating into a functional agency, dealing with refugees regardless of origin, will generally follow the lines of a program drawn up by Harry Greenstein, executive director of the Associated Jewish Charities of Baltimore, who last month completed a study of the functioning of the committee and its affiliated agencies undertaken at the request of the committee’s board of directors.

The reorganization, now in its initial stages, will be carried out as a gradual process requiring several months, with details of the plan modified as experience dictates. Announcement of the adoption of the new name, structure and board of directors is expected to be made some time next week.

Dr. William Haber, who was Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan and formerly Emergency Relief Administrator for the State of Michigan, has been chosen for the key post of executive director of the projected National Refugee Service, Inc. He will be “the chief administrative officer with broad authority to implement the work of the organization with such administrative procedures as may appear necessary.”

Under the Greenstein plan there will be eight centralized departments, whose heads will be responsible to the executive director. Over the executive director will be an executive committee, functioning with the aid of a Consultative Refugee Council, which will comprise non-Jewish groups. Above the executive committee and at the top of the structure will be a “truly national” board of directors.

The eight departments are as follows: (a) Immigration, (b) Resettlement, (c) Employment, (d) Special Categories, (e) Relief and Case Work, (f) Information and Research, (g) Comptroller, (h) Central Office Management.

Summarizing the study in the current issue of Notes and News, organ of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, Mr. Greenstein declares:

“No one can examine the present method of operation without being immediately conscious of the fact that the present organizational structure is not geared to the effective administration of a program which for the year 1939 may involve the expenditure of $2,500,000 or more. When the National Coordinating Committee was set up, it was impossible to foresee the extent and complexity of the refugee program — its growth in volume and its implications not only in New York but throughout the country.”

The reorganization study itself, contained in a 46-page pamphlet, lays stress on the benefits to be gained from centralization and elimination of duplication of activities.

“Intake for resettlement should not be the responsibility of the four local agencies in New York City,” the report states, “but should be a part of the function of the centralized Intake Department to be set up. A carefully planned resettlement program is one of the most important and challenging problems facing the Jews of America. Jewish communities throughout the country at the present time have indicated a willingness to accept more refugees from New York for resettlement than the Resettlement Division is able to supply. There is a very real need to develop resettlement-mindedness on the part of the refugees in New York City. From the moment refugees arrive in this country, steps should be taken to stimulate a desire and willingness on their part to settle outside New York City. The centralization of intake, the reduction of the waiting period at intake and a closer integration of the Resettlement Division with the Central Relief and Employment Departments of the new agency to be created, will help tremendously in increasing the flow of refugees out of New York.”

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