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NJ SBA Director Encourages Residents to Apply for Disaster Loans

1-16-13

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many residents and business owners are looking to repair and rebuild. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering financial help in the form of disaster loans. New Jersey District Director for the SBA Alfred Titone told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor that the organization is doing what it can to assist residents in need after the devastating hurricane.

Titone said anyone in New Jersey is eligible to apply for the disaster loans, which is the only program through which the SBA lends directly. “The reason for that is because of the situation, it would be difficult for folks to get bank loans,” he said. “So the SBA lends directly to try to get the most money in the hands of people as quickly as we possibly can.”

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To apply, residents can visit the SBA’s local New Jersey website or call 800-695-2955 to get a list of one of the disaster resource centers and get help.

Homeowners can receive up to $200,000 for house repairs and up to $40,000 for loss of personal property, according to Titone. He said renters can get up to $40,000 for loss of personal property and businesses can receive up to $2 million for either physical or economic damage. “As you know, a lot of parts of the state didn’t have physical damage, but the electric was out for a long time,” he said. “So if they can show they had economic injury because of the storm, they can also get loans.”

When asked if the loans are enough for recovery, Titone explained that the loans are often supplemented by insurance and “seem to be enough for them.”

While the loan program offers financial assistance, some business owners have expressed concern about taking them because they’re worried about incurring additional debt. Titone said that sentiment happens after every disaster, but it’s what the SBA offers. He said the loans are low interest and there are no fees so the effective interest is lower than it would normally be. He encourages business owners to apply by the deadline, which is the end of the month, so they have the option of taking it out.

Titone said the most applications have come from the Jersey Shore area, with the total throughout the state between 3,500 and 3,550 — including both homeowners and businesses — for a total of about $250 million. “We expect those numbers to continue to rise,” he said.

“Honestly the thing I try to tell folks is go to one of the centers to have people help you with your application,” Titone said. “For a lot of people it’s the first time.”