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Commonly Asked Questions on the Benefits of SBA Disaster Loans

Release date: 
October 30, 2015
Release Number: 
026

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. Survivors of the California wildfires may have questions about the SBA.

Below are the most common along with the answers:

What is an SBA disaster loan?

SBA disaster loans are the primary source of federal long-term disaster recovery funds for disaster damage not fully covered by insurance or other compensation. SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is working in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help business owners and residents recover as much as possible from this disaster.

Who is eligible for SBA low-interest loans?

When a federal disaster is declared, the SBA is authorized to offer low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, and to individual homeowners and renters who have sustained damage in the designated counties – in this case  Calaveras and Lake counties.

What’s the most common misunderstanding about SBA disaster loans?

The most common misunderstanding about an SBA disaster loan is the assumption that they are only for businesses. While SBA offers loans to businesses of all sizes, low-interest disaster loans are available to individual homeowners, renters and to private nonprofit organizations alike.

Why should survivors apply?

Survivors referred to the SBA must apply with SBA even if they feel they cannot afford or do not want a loan in order to receive some FEMA assistance.

Whether a loan is wanted or not, the SBA loan application may trigger additional grant assistance through FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program, administered by the state of California.

Some of these additional FEMA grants could include reimbursement for lost personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, moving and storage expenses.

What is available as part of the SBA low-interest disaster loan programs?

Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of primary residences.

Eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of all sizes can qualify for up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help cover physical damage.

Small businesses and most private nonprofits suffering economic impact due to the wildfires can apply for up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

What are the loan terms?

Interest rates for SBA disaster loans can be as low as 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters, 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years.

What if I decide to relocate?

You may use your SBA disaster loan to relocate. The amount of the relocation loan depends on whether you relocate voluntarily or involuntarily. If you are approved for an SBA disaster loan you should discuss relocation with your case manager for details on your specific situation.

Is there help available for refinancing?

SBA can refinance all or part of prior mortgages that are evidenced by a recorded lien, when the applicant:

  • Does not have credit available elsewhere,
  • Has suffered substantial uncompensated disaster damage (40 percent or more of the value of the property), 
  • Intends to repair the damage.

Homes: Homeowners may be eligible for the refinancing of existing liens or mortgages on homes, and in some cases up to the amount of the loan for real estate repair or replacement.

Businesses: Business owners may be eligible for the refinancing of existing mortgages or liens on real estate, machinery and equipment, and in some cases up to the amount of the loan for the repair or replacement of real estate, machinery and equipment.

When SBA loan officers discuss their approval recommendations they will include a discussion on refinancing if applicable to your application. 

What are the deadlines to apply?

California survivors have until Nov. 23, 2015 to apply for SBA disaster loans. This is also the deadline for survivors to register with FEMA.

Eligible small businesses applying for only the EIDL program have until June 22, 2016 to apply.

Disaster survivors who are notified by the SBA that they may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans should work directly with the SBA to complete the application.

How do I apply?

Disaster survivors should first register with FEMA by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362). TTY users call 800-462-7585, with Video Relay Service survivors calling 800-621-3362. Or, register online at DisasterAssistance.gov. To apply for an SBA disaster loan survivors can apply in person at any of the State/FEMA/SBA recovery centers or directly online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Where do I get specific information about the SBA process?

For questions about SBA or the process, or for help completing the SBA application, contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339. Survivors also may visit with an SBA representative at any Disaster Recovery Center. No appointment is necessary.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, survivors may visit: caloes.ca.gov or fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter@femaregion9 and Facebook.com/FEMA.

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.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:04