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SBA Offering Long-Term Disaster Assistance

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are partnering together to offer disaster assistance to those impacted by Hurricane Irma.

The SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is providing long-term, low-interest loans to help Floridians bounce back from the storm that pummeled most of the state last month. They have teamed up with FEMA, which is providing grant funding to help individuals get back to a safe, sanitary living environment.

“If any business, homeowner or renter was impacted, they should consider the SBA if they think they’re going to need more long-term recovery funding,” said SBA representative Sandra Lawson. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Homeowners, renters, businesses of any size and non-profits are qualified to receive a low-interest loan that can help them recover from Hurricane Irma. In order to be eligible for the disaster loan, businesses and homeowners have to be in one of the 48 counties that were declared as a disaster area.

The agency looks at the credit score and the applicant’s ability to repay the loan when considering if they are approved. The SBA's interest rates depend on whether each applicant has access to credit elsewhere.

“The SBA offers low-interest loans as low as 1.75% for homeowners and renters,” said Lawson. “For businesses, the interest rates are as low as 3.305% for up to 30 years and for non-profits, the rates are as low as 2.5% for up to 30 years.”

After applying, a disaster assessment will be made to estimate how much the actual damage of the business or home is worth. The SBA will account for any insurance assistance and grants businesses and homeowners are already receiving, and deduct that from the amount of damage assessment in order to determine the worth of the loan.

Approved applicants have two months to determine whether or not they would like to utilize the funding, serving as a fallback option for those who are unsure if they will need it.

If they are rejected for the SBA loan, they are still eligible for consideration by FEMA for their Individuals and Households Program, which provides additional grant assistance for those who have unmet needs.

The deadline for loan applications regarding physical damage to property owned by the business, homeowners or renters is Nov. 9, 2017. For small businesses and non-profits seeking capital loans as a result of suffering economic injury, due to loss of business because of Hurricane Irma, the deadline is June 11, 2018.

To apply for a loan, individuals can go online and fill out an electronic loan application. They can also visit a local disaster recovery center. If they need further assistance, they can call the customer service line at 1-800-659-2955.

Hafsa Quraishi is a WUSF Public Media digital news intern for fall 2017.
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