In the wake of hurricanes and other physical disasters, the government entity almost always front and center is the Federal Emergency Management Agency – or FEMA ; But there is another agency that works hand-in-hand with FEMA, helping businesses, homeowners and renters with low-interest disaster loans.
Many people are not aware of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the assistance SBA offers. If a business has sustained damage from Hurricane Irma – whether it is physical damage, economic damage or both, then SBA could be a solution. Most people are surprised to learn that help is also available to homeowners and renters as well as businesses.
In fact, the SBA has already approved over $290 million dollars in low-interest disaster loans to businesses and individuals who have been affected by Hurricane Irma. SBA encourages anyone who has not submitted a disaster loan application to do so as quickly as possible.
Physical disaster loans are available to help fund rebuilding and replacement to privately-owned real estate and personal property. Economic injury disaster loans provide necessary working capital until normal operations resume after a physical disaster. Unlike FEMA grants and insurance proceeds, SBA assistance is a low-interest loan that must be repaid.
If SBA is unable to approve a loan, the application is sent back through FEMA channels and becomes eligible for additional grant consideration.
Homeowners can apply for SBA low-interest federal loans for damages up to $200,000 to a primary residence; homeowners and renters can apply for to $40,000 for personal property. Interest rates are as low as 1.75 percent and repayment terms can be as long as 30 years.
Businesses can apply for up to $2 million for physical damages such as real estate, inventory and equipment. Even businesses without physical damages can apply for up to $2 million for working capital. Terms can stretch out up to 30 years and interest rates as low as 3.3 percent for businesses and as low as 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations.
To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance from Hurricane Irma, businesses and residents should first register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download FEMA’s mobile app. The next step is to apply for a low-interest disaster loan from SBA.
The SBA offers three ways to apply for a disaster loan:
1. Online at sba.gov
2. In person at a temporary disaster recovery center in Key West, Marathon, Islamorada and Big Pine where you can get one-on-one assistance
3. Call 800-659-2955 to have an application mailed to you.
The deadline to apply for a physical disaster loan is Nov. 24, 2017. The deadline for returning economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.