TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Don't let the word "business" in the name U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) mislead you. If you are a homeowner or renter, the SBA is your primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery, so those who receive SBA low-interest disaster loan applications should complete and return them as soon as possible.
Completing your SBA loan application does not obligate you to accept a loan that may be offered. However, returning it is a critical step in the recovery process because you must be turned down for an SBA loan to be considered for some FEMA grants that don't need to be repaid, including:
- Personal property
- Vehicle repair or replacement and
- Moving and storage expenses
You do not need to return the SBA loan application to be considered for temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation, medical, dental or burial expenses.
If you need help filling out the form or have other questions about the low-interest SBA loans, visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) near you, and SBA representatives will help you free of charge - no appointment necessary. Check with your local emergency manager to find the nearest DRC location. Other disaster specialists, including FEMA representatives, are also available at the centers to provide information on a wide range of federal-state aid programs.
If you are unable to visit a DRC and need help, you can call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or TTY 800-877-8339. Representatives are available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT Saturday. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA's secure Web site at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or visit SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
SBA offers disaster loans up to $200,000 to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real property. Homeowners and renters are eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Interest rates can be as low as 2.187 percent for homeowners and renters and maximum terms can be for as long as 30 years. The deadline to apply for these types of physical-damage loans - to homes or businesses - is June 29, 2009.
Businesses and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace: damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses. Loss of income, known as economic injury, may also be included in a loan. Applications for these longer-term economic injury disaster loans for small business owners must be submitted for approval by January 28, 2010.
North Florida residents who suffered damages or losses from the storms that began March 26 are encouraged to register for federal assistance from FEMA. This can be done online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by calling FEMA’s toll-free registration and Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 800-462-7585 for those with a speech- or hearing-impairment. Multilingual operators are available. Representatives will provide assistance from 7a.m to 10 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.