OMAHA, Neb. -- Okay. So you're trying to get your life back together after getting hit with astronomical repair bills caused by those early August storms.
Damage to your property is widespread. You need a loan to make massive repairs. And, because a disaster has been declared in your county, you hear you're eligible to apply for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Hey, you're not a business, you say.
Don't worry. SBA makes disaster loans of up to $200,000 to homeowners for real estate repairs and up to $40,000 for replacement of disaster-damaged personal property. In addition renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged personal property.
And yes, SBA is the primary form of federal assistance for long-term recovery for businesses of all sizes, with loans up to $1.5 million available for losses not fully covered by insurance. SBA also makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans to provide small businesses with working capital to pay necessary obligations until operations return to normal after the disaster.
What's the catch? None. And the interest rates for loans are as low as 3.625 percent and may extend up to 30 years to make the loans affordable.
Wait a minute. What about those grants some people receive from the Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program? Answer: That's why you're asked to fill out an SBA loan application. The law says that, after receiving disaster housing assistance, you cannot be considered for any additional help if you don't submit an SBA application, whether or not you really want a loan. SBA analyzes your income and debts and if it is determined you cannot afford a disaster loan, SBA may automatically refer you for an IFG grant.
But, be aware: While the maximum IFG grant is pegged at $13,600, history shows that the average IFG made to individuals is usually about $2,500, which will not replace too many wall boards and roof shingles. That makes SBA's 3.625 percent rate look awfully inviting.
Your best bet is to discuss your personal financial situation with an SBA representative. They are available by telephone (1-800-366-6303), or at the Disaster Recovery Center, Florence Community Center, 2920 Bondesson St. Next week the center will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. It will be closed Monday, Sept. 6, Labor Day.
A pair of temporary Disaster Recovery Centers will operate next week at Dana College in Blair, Sept. 7, 8 (Washington County) and in the City Auditorium in Tekamah, Sept. 9, 10 (Burt County), where SBA representatives will provide assistance during the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. sessions.