• The Star Staff

SBA offers loans to Tropical Storm Isais victims


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Jovita Carranza said Monday that after the announcement of the presidential disaster declaration for several municipalities in Puerto Rico affected by Tropical Storm Isaias from July 29 to July 31, 2020, businesses and residents in the area can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA.


“The SBA is firmly committed to providing the residents of Puerto Rico with the most effective response possible to assist businesses, homeowners, and renters with federal disaster loans,” Carranza said in a written statement. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority.”


The disaster declaration covers the municipalities of Aguada, Hormigueros, Mayagüez and Rincón in Puerto Rico, which are eligible to receive disaster loans for physical and economic damages from the SBA.


Small businesses and most private non-profit organizations in the following adjacent municipalities are eligible to apply only for SBA economic damage disaster loans: Aguadilla, Añasco, Cabo Rojo, Las Marías, Maricao, Moca, and San Germán.


Consistent with health precautions for COVID-19, the SBA will not establish a field presence to assist survivors. However, the SBA will continue to provide customer service and will conduct outreach activities virtually with webinars, Skype calls, phone support, and step-by-step application assistance.


The SBA has opened a Virtual Disaster Loan Assistance Center/Virtual Business Recovery Center (VDLOC/VBRC) to help survivors apply online using the Electronic Loan Application through the SBA secure website at https://DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/.


Virtual customer service representatives are available to help applicants complete the online application during VDLOC/VBRC daily hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, by email at FOCE-Help@sba.gov and by phone at (800) 659-2955. These services are only available for the Puerto Rico disaster declaration as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias, July 29-31, 2020 and not for COVID-19-related assistance.


Survivors should contact the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 to schedule an appointment to complete their loan applications. Requests for information on the SBA disaster loan program can be obtained by email: FOCE-Help@sba.gov.


The SBA will conduct extensive outreach to ensure that everyone affected by the disaster has the opportunity to request assistance.


Businesses and private nonprofits of any size can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets damaged or destroyed by the disaster. Applicants may be entitled to a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.


Eligible mitigation improvements can include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain, or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses, and most private nonprofits, the SBA offers economic damage disaster loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.


Disaster economic damage loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage. Disaster loans of up to $200,000 are available for homeowners to repair or replace real property damaged or destroyed by the disaster.


Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property damaged or destroyed by the disaster. Interest rates are as low as 3 percent for businesses, 2.75 percent for nonprofits, and 1.25 percent for homeowners and renters with terms of up to 30 years.


The amount and terms of the loan are established by the SBA and are based on the financial situation of each applicant.

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