LACEY, Wash. -- If disaster applicants are turned down for a low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) there may still be a grant program that serves as a "safety net" that may provide additional grant funds, according to state and federal disaster officials.
The Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grant program is available to qualified individuals and families to meet serious, disaster-related needs and necessary expenses for which assistance from other federal, state or voluntary agency disaster assistance programs is unavailable or inadequate. Typically, these needs fall into the categories of medical, dental and funeral expenses, as well as personal property, transportation and other necessary expenses or serious needs resulting from a major disaster.
At this time, 643 individuals and families have been approved for ONA help, for a total of $1.5 million in grants. An equal number of cases are still being processed by Washington Emergency Management Division (EMD), which administers the program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides 75 percent of the funding and the State provides 25 percent. Applicants who were not eligible for SBA low-interest loans are referred to ONA for consideration and if eligible, they could receive additional grant funds.
So far, over 5,700 people have received SBA disaster loan applications, but only 867 have returned them. The SBA has telephoned all applicants with unreturned loan packages to encourage them to complete and return their applications before the Feb. 7th deadline.
Disaster officials estimate that perhaps 20% of the people who have not yet returned the SBA loan application might be considered and be eligible for ONA assistance. This means that nearly 1,000 people who might qualify for further assistance will not receive it because they have not completed their SBA loan packet and returned it.
"Residents may be eligible for additional grant assistance from FEMA and the State, through the Other Needs Assistance program," says State Coordinating Office Kurt Hardin. "There's still time to fill out the SBA loan application to find out. But don't put it off any longer."
SBA loan applications are accepted at any Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) or Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC). SBA loan applications must be delivered by hand or postmarked by Feb. 7th. If the loan application is not returned, the applicant may not be considered for further FEMA assistance.
"If you have registered and have received a loan application from the SBA don't prejudge yourself," says Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn, "please complete it and mail it in or bring it into a DRC or DLOC before the deadline."
After a disaster, SBA is the primary source of long-term financial assistance. The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans up to $200,000 to repair disaster-damaged primary residences. Homeowners and renters may also be eligible for up to $40,000 to replace damaged personal property such as furniture, automobiles and clothing. Although some applicants would prefer a grant, loans offer a broader range of funding and allow an applicant to replace most of those disaster losses that can be replaced.
Loans to businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations up to $1.5 million are available to repair or replace damaged real estate, machinery and equipment, supplies, and inventory. Loans are the only type of federal assistance offered for businesses.
If applicants have misplaced their SBA loan application packet, they can request another by calling 1-800-659-2955. Replacement loan packages are also available at the DRCs and DLOCs.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.