Hurricane Sandy victims have until Jan. 28 to apply for financial assistance, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) wants to make sure everyone is getting the help they need.
Stephen D’Alessio, a public affairs officer with the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance, explained that while the SBA may not be handing out grant money like FEMA, they do offer low-interest loans to help rebuild both commercial and residential properties hit by the storm.
“If someone gets turned down from FEMA, that does not complete their repairs, then they get sent to us,” D’Alessio said. “Were not just there to clean out their home, but we are there to bring it back to being comfortable and normal again.”
To date, the SBA has issued 36,349 home and business loan applications in Brooklyn to residents who asked for assistance. They received only 14 percent (5,131) of those sent out, approved 14 percent (731) and issued over $32 million in total loan relief.
In Queens, they gave out 36,796 loan applications. The agency received a little more than Brooklyn at roughly 19 percent (6,974), also approved about 14 percent (1,004), and supplied around $65 million in total relief.
While the SBA approved mostly home loan applicants - 95 percent of all the approved loans - D’Alessio stressed the fact that the SBA has still only received a low number of applications compared to the amount they have issued.
“A lot of people are throwing them away or sitting on them because they don’t want to take a loan out, which is understandable considering the climate we are in economically,” he said.
Additionally, D’Alessio and the SBA encourage anyone who has been denied a loan to file for an appeal, granting a four-month window.
“You have to have the application, and if you don’t get what you want, you can apply for an appeal,” he said. “You can always apply for more.”
With fluctuating interest rates, the SBA assesses the applicant’s current credit score, however D’Alessio explained that no one could be excluded from receiving a loan.
“The rate can vary based off of someone’s credit picture,” he said. “We give a loan as low as 1.688 percent and as long as 30 years (for homeowners and renters), and it’s not adjustable. It’s a fixed rate, and that’s good for the life of the loan and the life of our deadline.”
Interest rates for SBA disaster assistance loans for homeowners and renters can also range as high as 3.375 percent, while business pay 4 percent and non-profits will see a 3 percent rate.
An additional disaster recovery center has just recently opened on Jan. 3 at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club at 3076 Emmons Ave. to further assist Sandy victims. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.