Many victims of Hurricane Wilma have reportedly called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to register for disaster assistance and, afterwards, received a loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Recovery officials are urging everyone who has received an SBA application to take time to fill it out and return it promptly. Completing the SBA application is a necessary step to being considered for other forms of disaster assistance.
While hurricane victims are not required to take SBA loans in order to receive housing assistance, failure to apply for additional assistance available from SBA indicates victims have no other unmet needs.
“The SBA disaster loan application provides necessary information for determining the appropriate assistance for each applicant,” said Justin DeMello, federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery effort. “If the SBA is unable to approve a loan, the applicant may be automatically referred to other disaster assistance programs.”
SBA loans are the primary source of long-term recovery assistance. The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to qualified homeowners, renters, landlords, non-profit organizations and businesses of any size that suffered losses due to the disaster.
“We are urging anyone who sustained losses due to Hurricane Wilma to apply for assistance and return the completed SBA loan application as soon as possible,” said State Coordinating Officer Craig Fugate of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). “Florida continues to work with our federal partners to speed aid to our impacted residents.”
Homeowners and renters can receive loans to replace personal property such as furniture and clothing; homeowners can receive loans to repair/replace damage to their primary residence; businesses and non-profit organizations can receive loans to repair damage to real estate, machinery, equipment and inventory. Interest rates are reportedly as low as 2.687 percent for homeowners and renters and 4.000 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Actual loan amounts and terms are determined by the SBA and based on each applicant’s financial situation.
The SBA also makes mitigation funds available to many disaster victims who have already been approved for low-interest disaster loans. SBA mitigation funds are designed to help borrowers fund protective measures to prevent damages from recurring in future disasters of the same kind. Borrowers may request an increase up to 20 percent of their approved physical loan amount to help pay for mitigation measures.
For more information, call the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or visit the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/disaster.
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