(Jan. 4, 2013) Homeowners, business owners and renters who sustained losses due to Hurricane Sandy are encouraged to apply for low interest loans from the Small Business Administration.
For property in Worcester County, the SBA has given about 100 loan applications, but has received only about 100 back, SBA representative Karen Knapik told the Worcester County Commissioners during their Wednesday meeting.
“It’s really beneficial,” Knapik said of the loan applications.
Not everyone, however, will be eligible for the SBA disaster assistance.
“You do have to be able to pay it back,” Knapik said. “You do have to be credit-worthy.”
The loans have interest rates as low as 1.68 percent for up to 30 years. Renters may borrow a maximum of $40,000 and homeowners may borrow a maximum of $200,000. Non-farm businesses and non-profit organizations may also apply for up to $2 million from the Small Business Administration to repair or replace damaged property, equipment, furniture, fixtures and inventory.
“They’re rates you can’t get at other places,” Knapik said.
Some people, she said, are leery of applying for the disaster assistance loans, but “we’re here to help you work through these issues.”
There are no processing fees for the loans and the application is only a couple of pages long. The loan may be put on hold for six months and the money that is repaid is loaned to others.
“When you pay it back, it goes back into the US Treasury” to help others in need, she said.
The SBA loans are limited by law to restoring a home or business to its pre-disaster condition.
Before coming to Worcester County, Knapik was in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to publicize the help that is available from the SBA. She hopes to speak to members of local chambers of commerce about the loans while she is in Worcester County.
FEMA approved federal funds for state and local governments and certain non-profits that sustained losses due to the Oct. 29 hurricane. The agency, however, denied individual assistance for Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester counties in Maryland and Accomack County in Virginia on Monday, Dec. 3, because, it said, there was not enough significant damage to private property there, although according to the FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov, there is no specific threshold for individual assistance. Another reason for individual assistance to be denied is that local resources might be sufficient to provide the assistance, but the Lower Shore counties are among the state’s poorest.
FEMA changed its decision about individual assistance for Accomack County residents Dec. 14. Knapik said it was still possible that FEMA could approve individual assistance for Worcester County. If it does, one step in that process is for people to apply for the SBA disaster relief loans.
Additional information about disaster assistance loans from the SBA may be found online at www.sba.gov or by calling 1-800-659-2955.