Disaster Center at Library Now Focused on Loan Applications
The Disaster Recovery Center is now a Disaster Loan Outreach Center.
The Disaster Recovery Center at the Ocean City Free Public Library will remain open as a U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center.
The loans can provide low-interest financing for repairing and replacing real estate and personal property damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The deadline to apply for these loans is April 1. (See attached PDF for a fact sheet on the program.)
The loans are from U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) but are not in any way limited to small businesses.
Individuals and businesses will continue to be served one-on-one at the disaster center at the library. The center will be staffed by three SBA representatives and two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives who can answer general questions about disaster assistance.
The Ocean City Center is located in the library at 1735 Simpson Avenue and staffed 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and closed on Sunday.
The loans are available to homeowners affected by the storm.
"Not everybody realizes that when they hear 'Small Business,' " said Karen Knapik, public affairs specialist for the U.S. SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance.
The loans can provide homeowners up to $200,000 for repairs and reconstruction and up to $40,000 to replace personal property at interest rates of as low as 1.69 percent.
As of Feb. 24, the SBA had approved 7,565 disaster loans to Sandy survivors for a combined $515 million. Of that total, 7,035 loans for $460 million went to homeowners and renters, while business owners received 530 loans for $55 million.
Knapik says just 15 percent of the owners who have registered with FEMA have returned applications for SBA loans, and she encourages all homeowners to apply while the opportunity to take advantage of the low-interest emergency loans still exists.
"We try to make up the difference for what insurance doesn't pay," Knapik said.
"People are hearing messages about grant money, and we think that's what they're waiting for," Knapik said.
But Knapik said applying for an SBA loan does not obligate a homeowner to accept the loan.
She said loan offers are typically made within 21 days of application — then owners have up to two months to respond. If an owner declines, the loan offer stands for another six months. If an owner then expresses a desire to renew the application, the owner would have another 60 days to respond. The process allows an owner up to 10 months to decide on whether to accept an SBA loan.
The application is the starting point for borrowing money for reconstruction, mitigation, relocation or refinancing.
The quickest way to apply is online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. But homeowners can get help and detailed information on completing the application by visiting the Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the library.