SBA funding available to homeowners & renters

Published 12:05 am Saturday, October 23, 2021

LAPLACE — The Small Business Administration is the primary source of funding for rebuilding the community through low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard recently sat down with Yolanda Stokes, public information officer for the Small Business Administration, to talk about what opportunities are available to residents.

The SBA Recovery Center in St. John the Baptist Parish is operating from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays at the River Region Chamber of Commerce, located at 390 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace.

It is a common misconception that the SBA only provides economic relief to businesses. According to Stokes, homeowners in St. John Parish may be eligible for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their homes, in addition to up to $40,000 for contents. The loans come at a rate of 1.563% and can be financed on up to a 30-year term, similar to a mortgage.

Renters are also eligible for up to $40,000 to replace or repair contents, which may include personal belongings such as furniture, vehicles or clothing lost or damaged during the storm. SBA has its own inspectors who will help determine losses.

Residents are able apply for an SBA loan even if they are getting assistance from insurance or FEMA. Hotard and Stokes emphasized that SBA loans can help bridge the gaps left by other forms of assistance so residents can begin home repairs sooner.

“We know that many folks are working with their insurance companies right now, and the insurance companies are bombarded,” Stokes said. “Sometimes, we can get SBA funding to residents before the insurance settles.”

Stokes added that residents can use their insurance settlement to pay back the loan. There is no obligation to take the loan once you are approved for it, and the loan can be cancelled at any time through a call or written notice to the SBA.

“There’s no harm in going ahead and applying for that loan,” Stokes said. “It may be that you’ll get individual buckets of money from your insurance, from FEMA and from SBA to bring you back to your pre-disaster condition. That’s the goal, to get everyone back to where they were prior to this disaster.”

In addition to low interest rate and extended terms, another tool to make SBA loans affordable is a five-month deferment of the first payment.

Since Hurricane Ida is a separate disaster from the COVID-19 crisis, individuals who have taken out a loan for financial injury during the pandemic are still eligible to seek SBA assistance for storm-related recovery.

For more information or to apply, call SBA’s customer service center at 800-659-2955 or visit sba.gov/services/disasterassistance .