The Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is urging people in western municipalities that were affected by the impact of Tropical Storm Isaías in late July to take advantage of the possibility of applying for low-cost loans. interest and long periods for repayment, so that they can recover from the damages they suffered.
As Florencio Marina, SBA’s public relations specialist, explained, the possibility of requesting loans from that federal entity is available to individuals as well as to businesses and non-profit organizations.
After the disaster declaration issued by President Donald Trump for the municipalities affected by tropical storm Isaías between July 29 and 31, a series of aid and assistance were activated to promote recovery, through various federal agencies such as such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and SBA. The emergency declaration covers the municipalities of Aguada, Hormigueros, Mayagüez and Rincón as the main affected, and also extends the possibility of receiving some benefits to the neighboring municipalities of Aguadilla, Añasco, Cabo Rojo, Las Marías, Maricao, Moca and San Germán.
Marina explained that, in the case of the four most affected municipalities, people, businesses of any size and non-profit entities can request the assistance of SBA, both for physical damages suffered and for economic damages. In the case of individuals, the possibility of applying for loans with the SBA is available to homeowners who suffered physical damage to their home, but those who rent a home and suffered damage to their properties can apply, for example, their vehicle.
In the case of contiguous municipalities, SBA assistance is limited to economic damages suffered by businesses and non-profit entities.
Economic damages encompass ordinary obligations that cannot as a result of the disaster. They also include matters such as repair or replacement of machinery, or replacement of inventory.
“People have until November 9 of this year (2020), which is the deadline so far, to request a loan from the SBA with low interest rates for physical damage suffered, meaning damage to the structure of the home or business”the spokesperson commented. “In the case of economic damages, they have until June 9, 2021.”
Marina recalled that in general many homeowners go first to FEMA after disasters, but that agency, if they see that they have certain income, refer them to SBA, since they have the ability to repay.
He clarified, however, that the loans offered by SBA “are at very good conditions, with low interest and a long time to pay. And they don’t have to start paying until a year after the first disbursement. “
“Each case is individual. That is why we urge you not to speculate, do not be intimidated by those business words, loan. Do the management, and we will try to help you ”, affirmed Marina. “There are those who speculate, who may not qualify. But what we tell you is to do the management. Each case is different. There are cases that are referred to FEMA for reconsideration. All of this is evaluated by the loan officers. “
At the moment, he clarified, the management with SBA can be started through the agency’s internet portal at the address disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, or by calling 1-800-659-2955, where you can get help in English and Spanish, and several other languages are also available. The number to call for the hearing impaired is 1-800-877-8339.
Marina indicated that they are working for the possible establishment of a disaster recovery center, which would attend by appointment due to the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Once said center is available, the population will be informed.
The SBA official clarified that, once the applicant starts the process, the loan officers will inform them which supporting documents or evidence are necessary for their particular case, whether they are income forms, or payroll if it is a business.
He held that, For a homeowner, you can borrow up to $ 200,000 from the SBA, with up to 30 years to repay, at an interest as low as 1.25%, beginning one year after the first disbursement. In the cases of businesses and non-profit entities, they can request up to $ 2 million, with up to 7 years for repayment. For non-profit entities, the interest can be as low as 2.75%, and for businesses as low as 3%.
For people who rent a home, but had damage (in furniture, car, clothes) can request up to $ 40,000, at an interest rate as low as 1.25%.
Marina clarified that, if someone applies for a loan for damage to their home, that does not prevent them from also being able to apply for damage to the business. “They are separate loans, and you can ask for both.”
Also, if you have different businesses, you can request assistance for each business separately.
In the case of businesses that share the same physical structure, if they have different employer numbers and more than one employee in each business, they can also request assistance separately for each business.
It also does not conflict with the application if you have any insurance. “You can ask for assistance (from SBA) in what the insurance responds,” and the loan could cover part of what the insurance does not cover.
Marina also clarified that at the moment there is no limit on the amount of loans that SBA can grant.
The spokesperson called reminded anyone considering filing a fraudulent SBA application that such an action is a criminal act, and that there is a federal division in charge of investigating and prosecuting such situations.
On the other hand, he also recalled that people would only receive some communication from an SBA loan officer once they have started the application process.
“When you start the process, then they contact you. They don’t call you without starting the process. If it is by email, you must make sure that the address ends in sba.gov. Otherwise it would not be from SBA. If it’s by phone, loan officers usually call 1-800-659-2955, and it would be a follow-up. And you can make sure and ask the questions you deem necessary to the officer, “he said.
“But the important thing is that he does the management,” Marina insisted. “Don’t speculate, don’t be intimidated if you are referred from FEMA. This is an initiative of the federal government, to help people recover. So do the management by phone or online. Take advantage of the option ”.
“And if any additional situation arises along the way, it can be discussed with the loan officer. Again, don’t speculate. The situation will be analyzed and will proceed according to what is possible. See it one day at a time, ”added Marina.
Remember, it is a loan after all, but it is an emergency loan, not a conventional loan. SBA is here to help, that is its purpose, and has been helping the population in these situations for decades. It’s definitely an option for a lot of people, and we’ve helped a lot of businesses get back on their feet. “