SBA steps up with low-interest flood recovery loans
FORT PLAIN Loans at interest rates lower than most banks charge will be the third facet of help for victims of the late-June deluge.
The U.S. Small Business Administration extends its low-cost loans after disasters, but typically only when the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers individual assistance.
FEMA shot down a request to provide individual assistance and instead offered public assistance to help affected municipal entities.
The June 28 disaster that claimed the life of a Fort Plain woman and tore up dozens of homes didn’t come with individual assistance, so Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared that the state would play the role instead, offering millions in help to flood victims.
Despite FEMA’s decision, U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen G. Mills declared a disaster in response to Cuomo’s request — a declaration that will make loans of up to $200,000 available to help people put their homes and properties back together.
Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton said victims turned down for help should go to Village Hall and see about a loan.
“If there is anybody that has been turned down by the state, they might better come up there and apply,” he said.
The loans come with an interest rate of 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters — a rate some people can only dream of.
“I pay more than that when I go to the bank and borrow money for the village,” Barton said.
Nonprofit organizations are eligible for loans with an interest rate of 2.875 percent, and businesses are offered loans at 4 percent.
And depending on the individual situation, the loan term can extend out up to 30 years, SBA spokeswoman Alana Chavez said.
She said people shouldn’t wait to hear back from their insurance companies before filling out an SBA application. “We encourage anyone who has received damage to apply as soon as possible, even before their insurance is settled, so we can help them see what they may be eligible for.”
Those unsure about rebuilding might take heart in another option as well: Chavez said people don’t have to use the loan money to fix up their flooded home.
Unless there are mortgage or other obligations, SBA loan money can be used to purchase another property elsewhere.
“They can use those funds towards relocation,” Chavez said.
According to an SBA news release, flood victims may also be eligible for an additional 20 percent of the amount of physical damage in loan money to take steps on their property to minimize the risk of future flooding.
Two SBA staff members are stationed at Village Hall in Fort Plain, 168 Canal St., to assist victims with questions on filling out the applications.
Victims can also apply for an SBA loan online using an electronic loan application found at http://disasterloan.sba.gov.ela.
People who need additional assistance can also phone 1-800-659-2955.