If you don’t fill out this loan application, FEMA might not give you any support

Horry County homeowners seeking federal assistance to recover from damages suffered during and after Hurricane Florence may need to fill out a loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

SBA spokeswoman Jorge Irizarry said his administration is part of the federal government’s response to natural disasters, and anyone who registers for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency could receive a letter from the SBA.

Irizarry said it’s very important that anyone who receives an application fills it out and returns it — even if they don’t want a loan — because if they don’t, the process required for them to receive any federal assistance will stop.

Even if you fill out the application and are approved for a loan, it doesn’t mean you have to take it, he added.

The SBA provides loans up $240,000 to homeowners and up to $2 million to business and nonprofits, according to the administration’s disaster loan fact sheet.

While FEMA will help homeowners recover by funding essential needs, Irizarry explained that the SBA loans could help pay for repairs or replacements for all personal property, including vehicles. The SBA, also unlike FEMA, doesn’t have to wait on a homeowner’s insurance agency before approving a loan, he added.

The loan terms for homeowners are up to 30 years with a 2 percent interest rate if the SBA determines an applicant doesn’t have the ability to borrow from non-government sources or 4 percent if they could borrow elsewhere.

The SBA provided 259 loans to Horry County homeowners totaling more than $8 million following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, according to spokeswoman Kathy Cook.

The administration also provided 22 loans to local businesses totaling nearly $2 million after Matthew, according to Cook. Those interest rates are 3.675 percent for businesses with no credit available elsewhere and 7.35 percent if it is available — which would also limit the loan term to seven years.

Loans to nonprofits have 2.5 percent interest rates regardless of whether interest is or isn’t available elsewhere, the SBA fact sheet states.

In addition to loans provided for physical damage to businesses, the SBA also offers loans to businesses for economic losses, though no such applications were approved in Horry County following Matthew.

SBA representatives are currently available at the temporary FEMA recovery center at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway.

David Weissman: @WeissmanMBO; 843-626-0305

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