Officials with the Small Business Administration are trying to get the word out that they can help a range of people who sustained financial losses because of Hurricane Harvey.
The SBA is an agency of the federal government established to help and support small businesses. But the agency also provides low-cost loans to homeowners and renters – regardless of wether they own a business – who have been hit by disasters.
"In disaster situations, we make loans to homeowners, to renters who have lost personal property and of course to businesses," said Donald Fikes, a spokesman for the SBA. The administration also provides loans to nonprofit organizations that have suffered financial losses.
With what the SBA calls its "Home Disaster Loan," the agency will loan up to $200,000 – at a rate as low as 1.75 percent – to homeowners to repair or replace damaged real estate.
"The majority of loans we will make will be to homeowners," Pike said.
Indeed, SBA figures show through Tuesday the agency has approved $142,239,100 worth of Hurricane Harvey home loans in Harris County and $4,037,400 in home loans in Montgomery County. By comparison the SBA has approved $13,151,300 in business loans in Harris County and $450,300 in business loans in Montgomery County.
The SBA also will loan up to $40,000 to renters to help cover losses.
As for a small business, the SBA will provide up to $2 million in what it calls a "business loan" to pay for repair work and to replace property, machinery or inventory that's been damaged. Those loan rates run as low as 3.3 percent, with up to 30 years to pay it off.
And for what's termed "Economic Injury Disaster Loans," the agency will loan up to $2 million to help pay for losses because a business was forced to shut down or sustained what Fikes terms "economic injury," such as being forced to close or the loss of a supplier.
The process for getting a loan from the SBA is like applying for any other loan. An application has to be filled out and then an SBA representative has to come out to survey the damage before the loan is approved and the money ultimately disbursed.
"We're trying to say right now four weeks before you have answer to the application if you were approved or not," Pikes said. "It's just like applying for any bank loan."
People who want to apply for an SBA loan can do so online, in person or by mail.
In Person: At the SBA office at 8701 S. Gessner Drive, Suite 1200, in Houston. Phone: 713-773-6500
By Mail: U.S. Small Business Administration, 14925 Kingsport Rd., Fort Worth, TX 76155