WESTFIELD, Mass. -- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans are not limited to just business owners. They are also a main source of aid for individuals and families with damage and losses from Tropical Storm Irene.
Disaster loans are available to qualified homeowners to cover the cost to repair or replace real estate loss, while renters and homeowners may both be eligible for loans to address personal property losses.
In fact, the majority of low interest disaster loans are made to individuals and families. The terms for homeowner and renter loans, as low as 2.5 percent with repayment terms for up to 30 years, are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition. The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.
Those who registered for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the aftermath of Irene may receive an SBA loan application in the mail. It is important that recipients complete and return the application either to the address indicated or to an SBA representative at any of the five Disaster Recovery Centers now open in Berkshire and Franklin counties.
If an applicant does not qualify for a loan, the applicant's information is then forwarded to FEMA for further consideration for disaster assistance grants. If the SBA loan application is not completed and returned, then applicants will not be considered for additional FEMA assistance grant programs.
The SBA can lend up to $200,000 for real estate losses and $40,000 for the replacement of personal property losses. With an SBA loan, the recipient can return their home and personal losses to pre-disaster levels; grants can only address emergency and serious need losses and cannot make the applicant whole.
Individuals and business owners may register for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Those with a speech or hearing disability may call (TTY)800-462-7585. Help is available in many languages.
They can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or directly through a Web-enabled mobile device or smartphone...visit m.fema.gov and follow the link to "apply online for federal assistance.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.