Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian offered low-interest SBA loans

Over $1B in SBA loans already approved to help families ‘get back up and running’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida homeowners, renters, businesses, and non-profit groups impacted by Hurricane Ian’s late September fury have received more than $1 billion in super low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance, according to SBA spokeswoman Mary Bradfield.

“Congress allows us to use a lower interest rate and better terms,” Bradfield told News 6, “You don’t have to go to the bank for this one, we do the loans ourselves.”

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Bradfield tells News 6 the SBA can offer loans as low as 2.188% to eligible homeowners for up to 30 years.

“These (loans) are for homeowners whose insurance and FEMA grants don’t cover everything they need in order to get their home or business back up and running,” Bradfield said.

One of the attractive options is a cash loan of up to $25,000 available without collateral.

According to Bradfield, the rates vary depending on the financial circumstances of the families and businesses applying for loans.

“We’re not here to compete with the banks for mortgages, the lowest interest rate is for those who need it the most who might get a higher rate at the bank,” Bradfield said.

For business owners, the lowest rate is 3.04% but nonprofits, including church organizations, will have rates below 2% at 1.875%.

“You can’t beat that,” Bradfield told News 6. “It’s not just for physical damage, it could be business economic injury loss.”

Individual assistance under major disaster was approved by FEMA in late October for Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties.

Residents in Marion County were not included in the disaster declaration signed by President Joe Biden but the SBA can allow them to apply for economic injury loans from business disruption at the same low interest rates.

“The insurance they get from FEMA does not cover everything,” Bradfield told News 6. “We’re here to help with that amount that they need to get fully up and running and  have a safe place to live.”

The SBA also allows up to 20% of verified losses to be added to the loan to “mitigate” homes or businesses.

“They can build back their home or business better to be more resilient for future storms, " Bradfield said, “We’ve seen estimates that every dollar spent in those situations saves them $6 (for every dollar spent) in the end.”

The deadline to apply for physical disaster relief because of Hurricane Ian is Jan. 12, 2023.

The deadline for the economic injury loan is June 29, 2023.

You do not have to take the loan, according to Bradfield, but the funds are there if approved just in case.

You have up to 6 months to decide if you want to access the loan and there is no fee for applying.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/ and should apply under SBA declaration # 17644.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.